NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

This Job is 'Getting Old:' Measuring Changes in Job Opportunities Using Occupational Age Structure

David Autor, David Dorn

NBER Working Paper No. 14652
Issued in January 2009
NBER Program(s):   LS

High- and low-wage occupations are expanding rapidly relative to middle-wage occupations in both the U.S. and the E.U. We study the reallocation of workers from middle-skill occupations towards the tails of the occupational skill distribution by analyzing changes in age structure within and across occupations. Because occupations typically expand by hiring young workers and contract by curtailing such hiring, we posit that growing occupations will get younger while shrinking occupations will 'get old.' After verifying this proposition, we apply this observation to local labor markets in the U.S. to test whether markets that were specialized in middle-skilled occupations in 1980 saw a differential movement of both older and younger workers into occupations at the tails of the skill distribution over the subsequent 25 years. Consistent with aggregate trends, employment in initially middle-skill-intensive labor markets hollowed-out between 1980 and 2005. Employment losses among non-college workers in the middle of the occupational skill distribution were almost entirely countered by employment growth in lower-tail occupations. For college workers, employment losses at the middle were offset in roughly equal measures by gains in the upper- and lower-tails of the occupational skill distribution. But gains at the upper-tail were almost entirely limited to young college workers. Consequently, older college workers are increasingly found in lower-skill, lower-paying occupations.

download in pdf format
   (165 K)

email paper

This paper is available as PDF (165 K) or via email.

Machine-readable bibliographic record - MARC, RIS, BibTeX

Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w14652

Published: David Autor & John J. Siegfried & David Dorn, 2009. "This Job Is "Getting Old": Measuring Changes in Job Opportunities Using Occupational Age Structure," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 99(2), pages 45-51, May. citation courtesy of

Users who downloaded this paper also downloaded these:
Autor and Dorn w15150 The Growth of Low Skill Service Jobs and the Polarization of the U.S. Labor Market
Acemoglu and Autor w16082 Skills, Tasks and Technologies: Implications for Employment and Earnings
Autor, Katz, and Kearney w11986 The Polarization of the U.S. Labor Market
Michaels, Natraj, and Van Reenen w16138 Has ICT Polarized Skill Demand? Evidence from Eleven Countries over 25 years
Autor and Handel w15116 Putting Tasks to the Test: Human Capital, Job Tasks and Wages
 
Publications
Activities
Meetings
NBER Videos
Data
People
About

Support
National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02138; 617-868-3900; email: info@nber.org

Contact Us