Working Paper 53

The rising value of interpersonal job tasks for graduate pay in Europe

Published June 2020

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Working Paper 53 by Golo Henseke and Francis Green analyses how wage differentials and employment among Europe’s tertiary graduates have changed with task content. Using individual-level income data for 25 European countries from 2004 to 2015 from the European Survey of Income and Living Conditions and the European Labour Force Survey, we find that the value of interpersonal tasks has increased: across Europe, a standard deviation higher intensity of interpersonal job tasks is associated with a 0.4 percentage point higher annual growth rate in wages. Second, problem-solving tasks have become a less important share of graduates’ employment: occupations that were a standard deviation more intensive in problem-solving tasks annually grew 1.1 percent more slowly. An analysis with granular, job-level data from Britain for the period 2001-2017 confirms both trends. There is suggestive evidence that the relative value of interpersonal tasks rose more in countries where the prevalence of high-involvement work practice had risen more.

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