Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics

Within Occupation Wage Dispersion and the Task Content of Jobs

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Abstract Most analyses linking task content of jobs to income inequality focus on the effects between occupations, e.g. the growing dispersion between lousy and lovely jobs. The theory, meanwhile, provides insights on links between task content of jobs and inequality also within occupations: models predict compression of wages in more routine jobs, that is those where capital is a direct substitute for labour, and an increase in dispersion in jobs where capital and labour are complements. I document that within occupations dispersion of wages is empirically relevant, as it represents around half of total wage inequality across Europe. I then link wage inequality to the task content of jobs. Using matched employee–employer data from Europe for the period 2002–14, I show that occupations where tasks complement newer technologies exhibit higher wage dispersion. This relationship is robust to adjusting for a variety of confounding and mitigating channels.

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