2019/18 LEM Working Paper Series

Digitalization, routineness and employment: An exploration on Italian task-based data

Valeria Cirillo, Rinaldo Evangelista, Dario Guarascio and Matteo Sostero
Digitalization; employment; task; skills.

  JEL Classifications
O33, J23, J24
This paper explores the relation between the digitalization and of labour processes, the level of routineness of tasks and changes in employment. The levels of digitalization and routineness of occupations in 796 5-digit ISCO professional groups are measured using data from a unique Italian profession-level survey on skill, task and work contents – the INAPP-ISTAT Survey on Italian Occupations (ICP), an O*NET-type dataset. We develop three novel digitalization indices: a digital use index measuring the use of digital devices and technologies in the workplace, a digital skills index assessing the familiarity and skill in using digital technologies, and a digital tasks index capturing the frequency and importance of selected digital tasks. Using the same data-source the Autor and Dorn routine task intensity index is also computed. This allows us to explore, based on robust indicators on routinization and digitalization, the existence and the strength of a “routinized biased technological change” specifically associated to the use of digital technologies. Results show the multifaceted nature of both digitalization and routineness processes, both characterized by strong sectoral specificities and by being strongly associated with the skill content of labour professions. Professions characterized by higher digital skills are those showing the best employment performances (although this holds only in manufacturing sector). Both the descriptive and econometric evidences show a negative employment dynamics among professions combining high level of digitalization and routineness.
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