Tijdens,K.G., Visintin, S. (2016). What do workers do? Measuring the intensity and market value of tasks in jobs. AIAS

Tijdens,K.G., Visintin, S. (2016). What do workers do? Measuring the intensity and market value of tasks in jobs. University of Amsterdam, AIAS Working Paper 161.

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ABSTRACT

Do occupations refer to the same work activities, as assumed in occupational classifications such as the International Standard Classification of Occupations from the International Labor Organisation (ILO)? Up to now, no large-scale empirical testing of this assumption has been conducted, whereas occupations are a core variable in socio-economic research. Using the task descriptions provided for all ISCO 4 digit occupations, the frequency of task implementation was tested using respondents in the multi-country, multilingual WageIndicator web survey on work and wages in 13 countries. The web survey targets individuals in the labour force. Depending on their self-selected occupation, the relevant task list was shown and respondents were asked to tick on a 5-point scale how often they performed each task. For 427 occupations (ISCO08 4 digits) in total 3,237 occupation- specific tasks were available. Between November 2013 and August 2015 33,678 respondents had completed the tasks questions for their respective occupations. The results show that task measurement is feasible because it can generate sufficient observations to allow for analysis for a range of detailed, 4-digit occupations. Moreover, given that the WageIndicator web survey also holds data on wages, the median and average hourly wages (in Euro) could be computed for each task separately, showing that the average wages of tasks performed on a daily or weekly basis ranged between 5 and 34 Euro. The data collection challenges future empirical testing of hypotheses concerning the variation in task frequencies and their related wage premiums within and across countries, across occupations’ skill levels, across firm sizes, across regions and alike.