Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/10419/69433
Authors: 
Autor, David H.
Year of Publication: 
2013
Series/Report no.: 
Discussion Paper Series, Forschungsinstitut zur Zukunft der Arbeit 7178
Abstract: 
An emerging literature argues that changes in the allocation of workplace tasks between capital and labor, and between domestic and foreign workers, has altered the structure of labor demand in industrialized countries and fostered employment polarization - that is, rising employment in the highest and lowest paid occupations. Analyzing this phenomenon within the canonical production function framework is challenging, however, because the assignment of tasks to labor and capital in the canonical model is essentially static. This essay sketches an alternative model of the assignment of skills to tasks based upon comparative advantage, reviews key conceptual and practical challenges that researchers face in bringing the task approach to the data, and cautions against two common pitfalls that pervade the growing task literature. I conclude with a cautiously optimistic forecast for the potential of the task approach to illuminate the interactions among skill supplies, technological capabilities, and trade and offshoring opportunities, in shaping the aggregate demand for skills, the assignment of skills to tasks, and the evolution of wages.
Subjects: 
skill demands
technological change
job tasks
Roy model
human capital
occupational choice
JEL: 
J23
J24
J30
J31
O31
O33
Document Type: 
Working Paper

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