This paper provides new evidence on the evolution over time and across skill groups of job polarisation in the UK, i.e. the decline in the employment share of mid-pay jobs relative to high- and low-pay jobs. It finds that the UK experienced some polarisation in each of the last three decades and that the share of middling occupations has declined steadily over time with some acceleration around recessions. Non-graduates account for the entire decline in middling occupations in each decade. Over the period 1979-2012, two thirds of the decline of non-graduate employment in middling occupations is explained by the decrease in the share of non-graduates in the labour force and a third by their reallocation to low-pay jobs. Routine occupations drive the decline of employment shares across the distribution but this is also largely accounted for by compositional changes in education. The paper reflects on how this evidence relates to that for the US and to the prevailing technology-based explanation for job polarisation. The main conclusion is that supply-side factors might have played a more important role in re-shaping the occupational structure of the UK than previous literature suggests, and that they are particularly important in explaining why polarisation continued in the 2000s even as the process appears to halt in the US.
Andrea Salvatori (ISER)
Date & time:
10 Dec 2014 13:00 pm - 10 Dec 2014 14:00 pm
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