RESEARCH

Publication:

International Economic Review, 60(1), forthcoming.


: Evidence from the English Premier League" with Sung Hyun Kim,

The Korean Journal of Industrial Organization, 21(3) (2013), 1-24


Working Paper:

This study examines how labor market returns to cognitive skills and social skills vary with the business cycle over the past 20 years, using data from the NLSY79 and the NLSY97. Exploiting a comparable set of cognitive and social skill measures across survey waves, I show that an increase in the unemployment rate led to higher demand for cognitive skills in the 2000s. High unemployment also sorted more workers into information use intensive occupations that require computer skills in the 2000s, but it sorted more workers into routine occupations in the 1980s and 1990s. This evidence suggests that recessions accelerate the restructuring of production toward routine-biased technologies. I also find that the returns to social skills increase during periods of high unemployment, though only in terms of the likelihood of full-time employment for experienced workers. Furthermore, an increase in unemployment increases the social skill task intensity of a workers occupation in the 2000s, while it shows the contrary in the 1980s and 1990s. Based on these results, I argue that routine-biased technological change may not readily substitute for workers in tasks requiring interpersonal interaction, and therefore such technologies demand experienced laborers who have high social skills during recessions.