Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/10419/203053
Authors: 
Parolin, Zachary
Year of Publication: 
2019
Series/Report no.: 
LIS Working Paper Series 767
Abstract: 
Routine-biased technological change has emerged as a leading explanation for the differential wage growth of routine occupations, such as manufacturers or office clerks, relative to less routine occupations. Less clear, however, is how the effects of technological advancement on occupational wage trends vary across political-institutional context. This paper investigates the extent to which collective bargaining agreements and union coverage shape the relative wage growth of occupations at higher risk of automation. Using data from the Luxembourg Income Study and the U.S. Current Population Survey, I measure the 'routine task intensity' of occupations across 15 OECD Member States and the 50 United States from the 1980s onward. Findings suggest that bargaining coverage is more consequential for the wage growth of high routine occupations relative to less routine occupations, and that high routine occupations lose coverage at a faster rate when bargaining coverage at the national level declines. As a result, declines in bargaining coverage within a country are associated with declining relative wage growth for occupations at higher risk of automation. Estimates suggest that had union coverage in the U.S. not declined from 1984 levels, the earnings of high routine occupations might have grown at the same rate as low pay occupations between 1984 and 2015, rather than experiencing a relative wage decline. However, the findings also suggest that gains in the relative wage growth may increasingly come at the cost of reduced employment shares of high routine occupations.
Document Type: 
Working Paper
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