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Change in occupational tasks and its implications: evidence from a task panel from 1973 to 2011 for Western Germany

Tobias Maier ()
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Tobias Maier: Federal Institute for Vocational Education and Training

Quality & Quantity: International Journal of Methodology, 2022, vol. 56, issue 3, No 1, 889-921

Abstract: Abstract The change of tasks in occupations is of interest to economic and sociological research from three perspectives. The task-based technological change approach describes tasks as the link between capital input and labor demand. In human capital theory, tasks are used to distinguish between general and specific human capital. Moreover, in institutional economics or sociology, it is argued that the specificity of occupations influences the marketability of the corresponding skills and tasks. However, data sources that illustrate task change within occupations are rare. The objective of this paper is therefore to introduce a task panel, which is created based on 16 cross-sectional surveys from between 1973 and 2011 of the German microcensus (Labor-Force-Survey), as an additional source to monitor task change. I present and discuss the harmonization method for eleven main activities that are exercised by the incumbents of the occupation within 176 occupational groups. To demonstrate the research potential of this novel data source, I develop an alternative theoretical view on the task-technology framework and classify the harmonized tasks according to their relationship to technological inventions in the third industrial (micro-electronic) revolution (technologically replaceable, technology-accompanying, technology-complementary and technologically neutral). Matching the task panel to an already existing Occupational Panel (OccPan) for Western Germany from 1976 to 2010, I can use fixed-effect regressions to show that changes of tasks within occupations correspond with theoretical expectations regarding the median wage growth of an occupation. The task panel can be matched to any data set containing a German classification of occupations from 1975, 1988 or 1992 to investigate further effects of task change on individual labor market success.

Keywords: Fixed-effect regressions; Microcensus; Micro-electronic revolution; Occupational panel; Specificity of occupations; Task-biased-technological-change; Task panel; Wage growth (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2022
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DOI: 10.1007/s11135-021-01158-y

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