TASKS III Conference: Changing Tasks – Consequences for Inequality

The third international BIBB/IAB/ZEW Conference titled "Changing Tasks – Consequences for Inequality" took place at the IAB in Nuremberg from May 26 to 28, 2014. The conference was co-financed under the international research programme "Strengthening Efficiency and Competitiveness in the European Knowledge Economies" (SEEK) at the Centre for European Economic Research (ZEW).

The conference was concerned with the role of job tasks for labour market outcomes. A special focus was placed on changes in task structures, in particular due to technological progress and offshoring, and their implications for inequality on the labour market. Four international top-level researchers of the field held keynote lectures.

Keynotes by Renowned Scientists

At the beginning of the conference, Thomas Lemieux (University of British Columbia, CA) held the first keynote on the impact of the field of study and of task assignment for wage inequality. He distinguished the different effects of education, occupation, and job matching on wage inequality. Michael Handel (Northeastern University, Boston, US) discussed the long-term development of tasks, occupations and education in several OECD countries in the second keynote. He argued that technological progress leads to slow changes in labour market structures, while other factors such as changing demand for goods and services are of key importance for the changing labour market structures.

On the second conference day, David Autor (MIT Economics, Cambridge, US) addressed the effects of international trade on employees and their adjustment strategies in his keynote. He distinguished employees according to their exposure to international competition and how this affects their income, risk of unemployment, mobility and receipt of social security benefits. In her keynote closing the conference, Uta Schönberg (University College London, UK) summarised the international evidence on the role of technological change for the polarisation of labour markets. She then presented new findings on organisational change at firm level and its effects on career paths.

Follow-up Conference in May 2016

In addition to the keynote speakers, 26 international researchers from Europe and the US presented and discussed their recent research results. The size of the external audience of about 40, including researchers and representatives from the Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs (BMAS) as well as the Federal Agency of Employment (BA), clearly reflects the urgency of the topic and the high quality of the programme. Motivated by the great success of the conference series, a fourth international BIBB/IAB/ZEW Conference will be organised at ZEW in Mannheim in May 2016. The announcement will be published in time on the websites of the involved research institutes.

SEEK Projects Involved

The conference was co-financed within the framework of the SEEK projects "Can Task-Biased Technological Change Explain Changes in Regional Labour Market Disparities?" and "Labour Market Adjustments in Response to Fundamental Technological Innovations" by ZEW researchers Terry Gregory, Dr. Jens Mohrenweiser, and Dr. Ulrich Zierahn. Both projects employ a task-based approach to investigate the effects of technological change on inequality on the labour market.

Additional information on SEEK