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The great reversal in the demand for skill and cognitive tasks

Beadry, Paul, Green, David A. and Sand, Ben (2013) The great reversal in the demand for skill and cognitive tasks. Public Economics Programme Papers (PEP 22). The London School of Economics and Political Science, Suntory and Toyota International Centres for Economics and Related Disciplines, London, UK.

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Abstract

What explains the current low rate of employment in the US? While there has been substantial debate over this question in recent years, we believe that considerable added insight can be derived by focusing on changes in the labor market at the turn of the century. In particular, we argue that in about the year 2000, the demand for skill (or, more specifically, for cognitive tasks often associated with high educational skill) underwent a reversal. Many researchers have documented a strong, ongoing increase in the demand for skills in the decades leading up to 2000. In this paper, we document a decline in that demand in the years since 2000, even as the supply of high education workers continues to grow. We go on to show that, in response to this demand reversal, high-skilled workers have moved down the occupational ladder and have begun to perform jobs traditionally performed by lower-skilled workers. This de- skilling process, in turn, results in high-skilled workers pushing low-skilled workers even further down the occupational ladder and, to some degree, out of the labor force all together. In order to understand these patterns, we offer a simple extension to the standard skill biased technical change model that views cognitive tasks as a stock rather than a flow. We show how such a model can explain the reversal in the data that we present, and offers a novel interpretation of the current employment situation in the US.

Item Type: Monograph (Report)
Official URL: http://sticerd.lse.ac.uk/
Additional Information: © 2013 The Authors
Divisions: STICERD
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HB Economic Theory
Sets: Research centres and groups > Suntory and Toyota International Centres for Economics and Related Disciplines (STICERD)
Date Deposited: 24 Jul 2014 09:08
Last Modified: 23 Sep 2019 23:13
URI: http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/id/eprint/58200

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