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CentrePiece article
Lovely and lousy jobs
Alan Manning
December 2013
Paper No' CEPCP398:
Full Paper (pdf)

CentrePiece 18 (2) Autumn 2013

JEL Classification: J210

Tags: labor demand and technology; inequality

The phenomenon of ‘job polarisation’ is increasing inequality as the labour market splits into high- and low-wage work. According to Alan Manning, who coined the term a decade ago, we cannot ignore job polarisation – but with sensible policies, we can manage it. Aiming for greater equality in the distribution of human capital is as important as ever. The most compelling explanation for job polarisation lies in the nature of technical progress: machines and software programs have been replacing employees in many routine jobs in the middle of the income distribution. But as Manning explains, while technology will undoubtedly continue to displace humans in some tasks, there is no reason to think that the jobs affected will always be the middle-skill ones.

Initial research was published in ‘Lousy and Lovely Jobs: The Rising Polarization of Work in Britain’,Maarten Goos and Alan Manning, CEP Discussion Paper No. 604, December 2003
This paper has been published as:
Review of Economics and Statistics 89(1): 118-33, February 2007