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Ruhr Economic Papers #948

On the Measurement of Tasks: Does Expert Data Get it Right?

Using German survey and expert data on job tasks, this paper explores the presence of omitted-variable bias suspected in conventional task data derived from expert assessment. I show expert task data, which is expressed at the occupation-level, introduces omitted-variable bias in task returns on the order of 24-34%. Motivated by a theoretical framework, I argue this bias results from expert data ignoring workplace heterogeneity rather than fundamental differences on the assessment of tasks between experts and workers. My findings have important implications for the interpretation of conventional task models as task returns expressed at the occupation-level are overestimated. Moreover, a rigorous comparison of the statistical performance of various models offers guidance for future research regarding choice of task data and construction of task measures.

ISBN: 978-3-96973-111-6

JEL-Klassifikation: C18, J24, J31

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