Technology, Skills, and Globalization: Explaining International Differences in Routine and Nonroutine Work Using Survey Data

65 Pages Posted: 9 Jul 2019

See all articles by Piotr Lewandowski

Piotr Lewandowski

Institute for Structural Research (IBS)

Albert Park

Hong Kong University of Science & Technology (HKUST); Hong Kong University of Science & Technology (HKUST) - HKUST Institute for Emerging Market Studies (IEMS)

Wojciech Hardy

Institute for Structural Research (IBS)

Yang Du

Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS)

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: April 2019

Abstract

The shift away from manual and routine cognitive work, and towards non-routine cognitive work is a key feature of labor markets. There is no evidence, however, if the relative importance of various tasks differs between workers performing seemingly similar jobs in different countries. We develop worker-level, survey-based measures of task content of jobs – non-routine cognitive analytical and personal, routine cognitive and manual – that are consistent with widely-used occupation-specific measures based on O*NET database. We apply them to representative surveys conducted in 42 countries at different stages of development. We find substantial cross-country differences in the content of work within occupations. Routine task intensity (RTI) of jobs decreases significantly with GDP per capita for high-skill occupations but not for middle- and low skill occupations. We estimate the determinants of workers’ RTI as a function of technology (computer use), globalization (specialization in global value chains), structural change, and supply of skills, and decompose their role in accounting for the variation in RTI across countries. Computer use, better education, and higher literacy skills are related to lower RTI. Globalization (as measured by sector foreign value-added share) increases RTI in poorer countries but reduces RTI in richer countries. Differences in technology endowments and in skills’ supply matter most for cross-country differences in RTI, with globalization also important. Technology contributes the most to the differences in RTI among workers in high-skilled occupations and non-off-shorable occupations; globalization contributes the most to differences among workers in low-skilled occupations and offshorable occupations.

Keywords: task content of jobs, deroutinisation, global division of labor, PIAAC, STEP, CULS

JEL Classification: J21, J23, J24

Suggested Citation

Lewandowski, Piotr and Park, Albert and Hardy, Wojciech and Du, Yang, Technology, Skills, and Globalization: Explaining International Differences in Routine and Nonroutine Work Using Survey Data (April 2019). HKUST IEMS Working Paper No. 2019-60 . Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3415008 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3415008

Piotr Lewandowski

Institute for Structural Research (IBS) ( email )

Wiśniowa 40B/8, 02-520
Warsaw
Poland

Albert Park (Contact Author)

Hong Kong University of Science & Technology (HKUST) ( email )

Clearwater Bay
Kowloon, 999999
Hong Kong

Hong Kong University of Science & Technology (HKUST) - HKUST Institute for Emerging Market Studies (IEMS) ( email )

IAS 2019, Lo Ka Chung Building,
Lee Shau Kee Campus, HKUST
Clear Water Bay, Kowloon
Hong Kong

HOME PAGE: http://iems.ust.hk

Wojciech Hardy

Institute for Structural Research (IBS) ( email )

Wiśniowa 40B/8, 02-520
Warsaw
Poland

Yang Du

Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS) ( email )

Beijing, 100732
China

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