Open Access Journal

ISSN: 2183-2803

Article | Open Access

Putting Tasks to the Test: The Case of Germany

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Abstract:  The demand for skills has changed throughout recent decades, favouring high-skilled workers that perform abstract, problem-solving tasks. At the same time, research shows that occupation-specific skills are beneficial for labour market success. This article explores (1) how education, workplace characteristics and occupations shape job task requirements, (2) how within-occupation job task content relates to wages, and (3) whether these relationships vary across types of tasks due to their presumably varying degrees of occupational specificity. Using worker-level data from Germany from 2011–2012 the article shows that a large part of task content is determined by occupations, but that task requirements also differ systematically within occupations with workers’ educational levels and workplace characteristics. Moreover, differences in task usage within occupations are robust predictors of wage differences between workers. Finally, the results suggest that non-routine manual tasks have a higher occupational specificity than abstract and routine tasks, and that manually skilled workers can generate positive returns on their skills in their specific fields of activity.

Keywords:  education; job tasks; occupational specificity; wages; worker-level


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© Daniela Rohrbach-Schmidt. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license (, which permits any use, distribution, and reproduction of the work without further permission provided the original author(s) and source are credited.