Date of Completion


Embargo Period



Labor Market Dynamics, Wage Polarization, Routine-Biased Technical Change, Job Displacement, Labor Market Institution, Cross-national Comparison

Major Advisor

Kenneth Couch

Associate Advisor

Richard Freeman

Associate Advisor

Delia Furtado

Field of Study



Doctor of Philosophy

Open Access

Open Access


My dissertation studies labor market dynamics using detailed longitudinal household level data from multiple countries. The institutional differences among different countries make the cross-national comparisons particularly interesting. Chapter one examines the occupational mobility of workers between occupations that vary in the intensity of routine tasks in Britain and Germany. Chapter two studies the relationship between the worker’s unobservable ability and the probability of involuntary job loss in four countries. Chapter three considers the impacts of job displacement on workers in Britain and Germany.

Following the hypothesis of Routine-Biased Technical Change, chapter one reports a declining employment share of routine occupations in both Britain and Germany. In Britain, the slower growth of wage premia of routine occupations encourages routine workers witch to other occupations. Higher ability workers are more likely to upgrade to cognitive occupations, while lower ability ones are more likely to downgrade to manual occupations. However, in Germany, wage premia of cognitive occupations increased. Therefore, most workers move from routine occupations to more highly compensated cognitive ones in the face of automation.

Chapter two investigates involuntary job loss in four countries--Britain, Germany, Korea and Switzerland. In all four countries, conditional on a vector of traditional observable attributes, lower ability workers are consistently more likely to experience involuntary job loss. In addition, I find unionization at the work place plays an important role in this mechanism. In Britain, Korea and Switzerland the union sector contributes almost all the effect while in Germany lower skilled workers in both unionized and non-unionized sectors are disproportionally more likely to lose jobs.

Additionally, the impacts of job displacement in Britain and Germany are examined in chapter three. Losses of labor earnings are very similar four years after job loss. However, families in Germany seem to be able to better respond to the losses of earnings caused by a job displacement. The cross-national contrast is sharper when considering the additional role of government. In Germany, no statistically significant differences in post-government income are observed following job displacement while four years later, losses in family income remain at more than 10 percent in Britain.