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 measures of task content of jobs – non-routine cognitive analytical and personal, routine cognitive and manual – which allow country-specific measurement in 42 countries that are covered by PIAAC, STEP and CULS surveys. We find substantial cross-country differences in the content of work, also within occupations. Differences in technology endowments and in the supply of skills explain most of the cross-country differences in the task content of jobs, especially among workers in high- and middle- skilled occupations, while off-shoring contributes the most to differences between workers in low-skilled and offshorable occupations.

keywords: tasks, deroutinisation, routine-replacing technical change, off-shoring, PIAAC, STEP, CULS

JEL codes: , ,

publication year: 2019

language : English

thematic categories :

publishing series : IBS Working Paper

publication number : 04/2019

ISSN : 2451-4373

additional information: We thank Saier Wu, Peng Jia, Cheng Jie and Zeyang Yu for their excellent research assistance, thank Emily Pawlowski of the American Institutes for Research (AIR) for help with using the US PIAAC restricted data, and participants of ASSA2019 in Atlanta, EALE2018 in Lyon, Jobs and Development Conference 2018 in Bogotá, TASKS V in Bonn, seminars at UCSD, The World Bank, and Princeton University, as well as workshops in Beijing, Geneva, Luxembourg, Singapore and Warsaw for their insightful comments. We acknowledge support from the Hong Kong Research Grants Council General Research Fund [16504217]. The usual disclaimers apply. All errors are our own.

Du Yang

Chinese Academy of Social Science (CASS), Beijing

Albert Park

HKUST Institute for Emerging Market Studies, Hong Kong

Wojciech Hardy

Institute for Structural Research (IBS), University of Warsaw

Piotr Lewandowski

Institute for Structural Research (IBS)

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