We establish new stylised facts about the global evolution and distribution of routine and non-routine work, relaxing the common assumption that occupations are identical globally. We combine survey data and regression models to predict the country-specific routine-task intensity of occupations in 87 countries employing over 2.5 billion workers, equivalent to 75% of global employment. From 2000 to 2017, the shift away from routine work was much slower in low- and middle-income countries than in high-income countries, widening gaps in the nature of work. Low– and middle-income countries remained the dominant provider of routine work. Not accounting for differences in occupation-specific job tasks across countries leads to a significant overestimation of the role of non-routine tasks in less developed countries.
We thank Adam Bielski and Karol Madoń for excellent research assistance. We also thank participants of the LISER-IAB Conference on Digital Transformation and the Future of Work for their insightful comments. We acknowledge support from UNU-WIDER, and the Hong Kong Research Grants Council General Research Fund . This study is reproduced here with full acknowledgement of UNU-WIDER, Helsinki. The study was originally published under the UNU-WIDER project The changing nature of work and inequality, which is part of a larger research project on Inequalities – measurement, implications, and influencing change. The usual disclaimers apply. All errors are our own.