Working Paper Series, Department of Economics, Uppsala University
Is Job Polarization a Recent Phenomenon? Evidence from Sweden, 1950–2013, and a Comparison to the United States
Abstract: In this paper, I first show that Swedish job polarization
is––contrary to common belief––a long-run phenomenon: the share of
middle-wage jobs has declined relative to the highest- and lowest-paid jobs
since at least the 1950s. Based on previous results for the US, I then
demonstrate that the same major employment shifts across routine and
nonroutine jobs drive long-run job polarization in both Sweden and the US.
In particular, the shrinking manufacturing sector, with the subsequent
decline of routine manual (blue-collar) jobs, stands out as the main
explanation for why job polarization is a long-run phenomenon. However,
consistent with the hypothesis of routine-biased technological change, both
countries display across-the-board declines of routine jobs from around the
1980s, as well as polarizing employment patterns not only between but also
within industries. But despite these trend breaks, Sweden actually
experienced a stronger job-polarization process—a more pronounced hollowing
out of the job-wage distribution—in the pre- than in the post 1980-era.
Keywords: Automation; Industrial Composition; Routine-Biased Technological Change; Routinization; Structural Change; (follow links to similar papers)
JEL-Codes: J21; J23; N10; N30; O33; (follow links to similar papers)
50 pages, November 16, 2017
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