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Friday 17th July, 13:00 - 14:30 Room: O-106

Occupations and survey research: methodological and substantive applications exploiting occupations as social contexts 3

Convenor Professor Christian Ebner (University of Cologne, Germany )
Coordinator 1Dr Daniela Rohrbach-schmidt (Federal Institute for Vocational Education and Training, Bonn, Germany)

Session Details

The individual’s occupation belongs to the most frequently surveyed and most used background variables in social surveys. Occupational codes are regularly used as nominal units within fixed-effects approaches (economics), or they are recoded into different status measures or class schemes (sociology). More recent approaches describe occupations as “microclass” categories, which shape individual behavior and attitudes (e.g. Weeden/Grusky 2005). This view is also interesting from a methodological view, as it understands occupations as a contextual unit, in which individuals are nested and socialized.

Following this approach our session focuses on occupations as a higher-level unit of analysis in multi-level designs. The session is a good opportunity to reflect on:
- How the relevance of occupations as a social context can be justified / what are valuable concepts to understand and systemize the occupational level?
- How occupational characteristics (e.g. regulations, skill / job task requirements) help to explain social phenomena at the individual level?

Methodological papers might address issues related to multi-level techniques (hierarchical, non-hierarchical, cross-classified), levels of occupational aggregation and data linkage, (inter)national occupational classifications, and the comparability of results between regions or countries. Substantive papers might cover the usefulness of the occupational context for the understanding of e.g. attitudes and lifestyles, labor market outcomes or well-being. In particular, we are interested in the theoretical and empirical mechanisms (e.g. social closure (ibid.), technological change (Autor/Handel 2013)), which lead to the described outcomes at the individual level.

Autor, David; Handel, Michael (2013). Putting Tasks to the Test: Human Capital, Job Tasks, and Wages. Journal of Labor Economics 31(2): S59-S96.
Weeden, Kim; Grusky, David (2005). The Case for a New Class Map. American Journal of Sociology 111(1): 141-212.

Paper Details

1. Occupational differences in firms search behaviour
Dr Martina Rebien (Institute for Employment Research)
Ms Judith Czepek (Institute for Employment Research)

The demand side of the labour market face decisions under uncertainty during the recruitment process. Knowledge about the occupational names can ease this uncertainty and ease the re-cruiting process, particularly, if their degree of standardization is high. Using data from the German Job Vacancy Survey, we will identify occupational differences in firms recruiting processes. First findings show that firms are more suc-cessful in recruiting, when searching for occupations with low standardization and more likely to cancel their search for high qualified and highly standardized occupations, which indicates shortages of skilled labour in different occupational groups.

2. Degree of Standardised Certification – An Indicator for Measuring Institutional Characteristics of Occupations
Mrs Basha Vicari (Institute for Employment Research)

In segmented labour markets, occupations function as an institution that transfers signals about the knowledge and skills required for practicing a professional activity and reduces uncertainties in the job matching. To measure the impact of the occupational institution I established two indicators: the degree of standardised credentials and the degree of legal access regulation of occupations. Both are based on information from BERUFENET, the career orientation portal of the German Federal Employment Agency. Besides describing the data base and the way of calculating the indicators, I will present and discuss first applications in analyses of e.g. occupational mobility.

3. Occupational Tasks in the German Labour Market. An alternative measurement on the basis of an expert database
Mrs Katharina Dengler (Institute for Employment Research)
Dr Britta Matthes (Institute for Employment Research)
Mrs Wiebke Paulus (Department of Statistics of the German Federal Employment Agency)

In contrast to the existing task operationalisations in Germany that are based on survey data, we use – following the approach in the U.S. – expert knowledge about competencies and skills – that are usually required for performing an occupation. Based on an expert database (BERUFENET of the German Federal Employment Agency), we provide an alternative task operationalisation for Germany and calculate the main task type and the composition of tasks for different occupational classifications (German Classification of Occupations 1988 and German Classification of Occupations 2010) and for different classification levels (2-digit- and 3-digit-codes).

4. Occupational specific search costs and matching efficiency
Mr Michael Stops (IAB)
Mrs Basha Vicari (IAB)
Mrs Katharina Dengler (IAB)

We propose two identifiable categories of occupational properties: the degree of standardization and the quantity of tasks. Both categories of occupational specific properties could determine information asymmetries during search and, therefore, the costs of search and the observed matching efficiency. We discuss and show in a theoretical model and empirically validate that the degree of standardization of occupations positevely influences the number of matches per observation periods and the quantity of tasks has a negative impact. This implies that standardized vocational training and efforts to raise the transparency contribute to a well-functioning labour market.

5. Measuring Skill Transferability Across Occupations
Ms Basha Vicari (Institute for Employment Research, Nuremberg, Germany)
Dr Britta Matthes (Institute for Employment Research, Nuremberg, Germany)

By definition, occupation-specific skills are perfectly transferable across employers, but not across occupations. Transferability across occupations depends on how productive these skills are in other occupations. Therefore skill transferability can be determined by how strongly skills required for an occupational activity coincide between two occupations. We propose a concept to measure skill transferability based on expert knowledge about required occupation-specific skills provided at BERUFENET, the career orientation portal of the German Federal Employment Agency. With this indicator for skill transferability, we show that the probability of occupational mobility increases when skills can easily be transferred to another occupation.