Upgrading or polarization? Occupational change in Britain, Germany, Spain and Switzerland, 1990-2008
Daniel Oesch () and
Jorge Rodriguez Menes
MPRA Paper from University Library of Munich, Germany
We analyze the pattern of occupational change over the last two decades in Britain, Germany, Spain and Switzerland: which jobs have been expanding – high-paid jobs, low-paid jobs or both? Based on individual-level data, we examine what hypothesis is most consistent with the observed change: skill-biased technical change, routinization, skill supply evolution or wage-setting institutions? Our analysis reveals massive occupational upgrading that closely matches educational expansion: employment expanded most at the top of the occupational hierarchy, among managers and professionals. In parallel, mid-range occupations (clerks and production workers) declined relative to those at the bottom (interpersonal service workers). This U-shaped pattern of upgrading is consistent with the routinization hypothesis: technology seems a better substitute for average-paid clerical and manufacturing jobs than for low-end service employment. Yet country differences in low-paid service job creation suggest that wage-setting institutions play an important role, channelling technological change into more or less polarized patterns of upgrading.
Keywords: employment; labour market institutions; technological change; inequality; occupations (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: J21 P52 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-eur and nep-lab
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