Daniel Oesch, Giorgio Piccitto, 04 January 2020

The consensus view in economics is that labour markets are polarising as jobs are created in high-skilled and low-skilled occupations but disappear in mid-skilled ones. This column shows empirical evidence against the polarisation theory in Western Europe. Between 1992 and 2015, job growth in Germany, Spain, Sweden, and the UK was strongest in top-end occupations and, except in the UK, weakest in low-end occupations. 

Zsofia Barany, Christian Siegel, 25 July 2018

Economists agree that structural transformation and job polarisation are both caused mainly by biased technological progress, but there is no consensus on the nature of these biases. The column uses US data to estimate the extent to which technological change is biased across sectors and across occupations. It finds that for improved labour market outcomes, policies targeting occupational choice for workers might be better than industrial policies to protect sectors of the economy.

James Harrigan, Ariell Reshef, Farid Toubal, 06 July 2016

Job polarisation has been documented in many large developed economies over the past two decades. This column shows how the growth of ICT has contributed to these trends. Using French firm-level data, it documents the declining share of middle-wage jobs, and identifies an increase in the share of technology-related jobs as an important contributing factor. Firms with more ‘techies’ are also found to grow faster than less techie-intensive firms.

Wolfgang Keller, Hâle Utar, 05 July 2016

Recent shifts in political sentiment regarding EU membership have been caused in part by a growing hostility towards globalisation. This column uses Danish evidence to analyse whether globalisation causes a polarisation of jobs in developed countries, and in particular whether it causes a loss of middle-income jobs. Rising import competition can increase income inequality, but it also accounts for a substantial part of all high-wage employment gains. The task for policymakers is to make these gains felt by the majority of citizens.

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