Research

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Working Paper

Task Specialization and the Native-Foreign Wage Gap:
Evidence from Worker-level Data

Running RIF regressions to decompose wage differences along the distribution, this is the first study documenting that worker-level variation in tasks has played a key role in the widening of the Native-Foreign Wage Gap. Comparing variation in Individual- vs Occupation-level task measures suggests idiosyncratic differences have become relatively more important since the 2000s, accounting for up to 25% of the explained wage gap. Importantly, natives specialize in interactive activities not only between but also within occupations. This enhanced degree of task specialization accounts for 8-16% of the gap and offers new insight into sources for imperfect substitution of native and foreign workers in the production function and consequently small migration-induced wage effects.

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On the Measurement of Tasks:
Conceptual Benefits of Using Survey over Expert-based Data

Using task data from Germany with self-reported information on job-related activities by individuals, I measure tasks at the worker level and compare its wage implications with Expert-based data provided by the German Federal Employment Agency. The findings show substantial heterogeneity in tasks at the individual level, which are predictive of wage differences between and within occupations and robust to a series of alternative model specifications. Importantly, various statistical tests favor worker-level information on tasks over occupational measures due to greater explanatory power on wages. The superior statistical performance of Survey data can be motivated by intra-occupational efficiency gains workers earn as a result of task specialization within occupations. Suggestive evidence indicates this enhanced degree of task specialization may become even more important if greater weight is given to the time allocation of job-related activities. Overall, the results suggest incomplete information on the part of Expert data and recommend worker-level information in studies on job tasks.

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Research in Progress

Does Immigration Induce more Natives to Enroll in College?

Wage Inequality: A Task-Based Approach

Tasks and the Gains from Specialization

Signaling Skills: A Model of Occupational Choice and Task Specialization

Another Boom in Demand for Skill? Implications of Remote Work for Organizational Capital