Explaining international differences in the nature of work

May 13 2019
Materials from IEAMS HKUST seminar, during which Piotr Lewandowski and Albert Park presented their new paper – Hong Kong, 25.04.

Piotr Lewandowski and Albert Park (IEMS HKUST) presented their paper “Technology, Skills, and Globalization: Explaining International Differences in Routine and Nonroutine Work Using Survey Data” as a part of the academic seminar series at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology. Below you can find materials from the seminar – video recording, presentation (download here) and a brief summary.

The paper, a joint work of IBS and IEMS HKUST teams, is the first to provide evidence on cross-country differences in the task content of jobs using survey data from low-, middle- and high-income countries. Understanding the extent and nature of these differences is of both scientific and policy relevance, as they reflect differences in the nature of work that can inform future labor market challenges, such as the share of jobs that can be automated.

The authors argued that the worker-level, survey-based measures of task content of jobs – non-routine cognitive analytical and personal, routine cognitive and manual –  show that there are 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. Next, they showed the results of estimations of 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 decomposed 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.

Watch the whole seminar:

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