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TAKING LABOR TO TASK: THREE ESSAYS IN LABOR ECONOMICS EMPLOYING THE TASK APPROACH
AuthorGibbons, Eric M.
AdvisorSorensen, Todd A
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This dissertation employs the “Task-Approach” to study how tasks impact different facets of the labor market. The first study explores heterogeneity in task costs associated with occupational choice. Exploiting variation in occupational task measures, I construct a measure of task dissimilarity to estimate transition task costs of displaced workers. I find evidence of heterogeneity in task costs across individual task measures. Worker characteristics are also shown to be a source of heterogeneity in the cost estimates. Notably, the types of tasks we generally associate with low, middle, and high-skilled workers performing the most are the dimensions of task costs that are least costly when switching occupations. Furthermore, I find supporting evidence that task costs vary over the business cycle. The second study builds on the concept of occupational dissimilarity using the “Task-Approach.” A novel method measuring occupational isolation in local labor markets is presented to show associations with isolation and occupation level wages. On average, wages are lower in occupations that are more isolated. Furthermore, the findings suggest greater wage volatility in isolated occupations. Finally, using occupational task rankings of U.S. occupations as a previously unexplored methodology measuring returns to internationaltask-specific human capital of new immigrant workers in the U.S. shows that returns to high-skilled related task-specific experience are both statistically and economically significant. Also, new immigrants receive statistically and economically significant returns to source country occupation-specific experience.