Skip to main content

Journal article

Job polarization and the declining quality of knowledge workers: Evidence from the UK and Germany

Across the developed world, employment has polarized clearly by occupation, but changes to the wage structure have been harder to interpret. We examine changes to the wage structure in the UK and Germany, two countries with apparently very different trends. Using panel data, we argue that changes to quality-adjusted prices for occupations grouped by predominant tasks correlate strongly with employment growth in both countries, consistently with task-based changes to labour demand. The gap between price and average wage changes is strongest in top (knowledge) jobs, implying that the average quality of these workers has declined over time. We obtain further direct evidence on changes to worker quality using rich data on individual characteristics.

Chiara Cavaglia and Ben Etheridge

1 October 2020

Labour Economics 66(101884) 2020

DOI: 10.1016/j.labeco.2020.101884

This Journal article is published under the centre's Education and skills programme, Labour markets programme.