Routine biased technological change and wage inequality: do workers’ perceptions matter?

A new GLO Discussion Paper shows for Italy that non-routine workers earn always significantly more than routine workers.

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Sergio Scicchitano

GLO Discussion Paper No. 763, 2021

Routine biased technological change and wage inequality: do workers’ perceptions matter? Download PDF
Vannutelli, Silvia & Scicchitano, Sergio & Biagetti, Marco

GLO Fellow Sergio Scicchitano

Author Abstract: The Routine-Biased Technological Change (RBTC) has been called as a relatively novel technology-based explanation of social changes like job and wage polarization. In this paper we investigate the wage inequality between routine and non-routine workers along the wage distribution in Italy. Thanks to unique survey data, we can estimate the wage differential using both actual and perceived level of routine intensity of jobs to classify workers. We adopt semi-parametric decomposition techniques to quantify the importance of characteristics of workers in explaining the gaps. We also employ non-parametric techniques to account for self-selection bias. We find evidence of a significant U-shaped pattern of the wage gap, according to both definitions, with non-routine workers earning always significantly more than routine workers. Results show that workers’ characteristics fully explain the gap in the case of perceived routine, while they account for no more than 50% of the gap across the distribution in the case of actual routine. Thus, results highlight the importance of taking into account workers’ perceptions when analyzing determinants of wage inequality. Overall, we confirm that, after leading to job polarization, RBTC induced a similar polarizing effects on wages in Italy.

GLO Discussion Papers are research and policy papers of the GLO Network which are widely circulated to encourage discussion. Provided in cooperation with EconStor, a service of the ZBW – Leibniz Information Centre for Economics, GLO Discussion Papers are among others listed in RePEc (see IDEAS,  EconPapers)Complete list of all GLO DPs – downloadable for free.


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