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The “task approach” to labor markets: an overview

The “task approach” to labor markets: an overview 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. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Journal for Labour Market Research Springer Journals

The “task approach” to labor markets: an overview

Journal for Labour Market Research , Volume 46 (3) – Feb 14, 2013

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Publisher
Springer Journals
Copyright
Copyright © 2013 by Institut für Arbeitsmarkt- und Berufsforschung
Subject
Economics / Management Science; Labor Economics; Sociology, general; Human Resource Management; Economic Policy; Regional/Spatial Science; Population Economics
ISSN
1614-3485
eISSN
1867-8343
DOI
10.1007/s12651-013-0128-z
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

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.

Journal

Journal for Labour Market ResearchSpringer Journals

Published: Feb 14, 2013

References