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Water under the bridge: changes in employment in Britain and the OECD

Robinson, Peter (1997) Water under the bridge: changes in employment in Britain and the OECD. CEP discussion paper; CEPDP0325 (325). Centre for Economic Performance, London School of Economics and Political Science, London, UK.

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Evidence is presented for the UK, the US and France that the pace of change in the structure of employment by occupation has not been accelerating. Changes in the occupational structure of employment are taken to proxy changes in the net demand for labour by skill level. Efforts are made to make the data for these three countries comparable, reflecting the problem that data published by the ILO on the distribution of employment by occupation are not readily comparable. The direction of employment change across countries seems very similar, with manual jobs being replaced primarily by managerial, professional and technical jobs which tend to require higher qualifications. However, in themselves the changes in employment which have occurred require only modest improvements each decade in the qualifications of the workforce. In the UK, skilled manual employment has declined at the same rate as unskilled manual employment. Changes in the qualifications structure of the workforce occur gradually across generations, as the children of people with few formal qualifications attain higher qualifications and their parents leave the labour force. Sharp changes in the structure of employment over a relatively short space of time can throw the labour market into a position of structural imbalance. But over time as the changes in the structure of employment moderate and the new generation attains higher qualifications, these imbalances can work their way out. In this sense the shock of the early 1980s recession in the UK represents ‘water under the bridge’.

Item Type: Monograph (Discussion Paper)
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 1997 P.Robinson
Divisions: Economics
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor
Sets: Collections > Economists Online
Departments > Economics
Research centres and groups > Suntory and Toyota International Centres for Economics and Related Disciplines (STICERD)
Date Deposited: 27 Apr 2007
Last Modified: 26 Apr 2021 11:47

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