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Friday 17th July, 09:00 - 10:30 Room: O-106

Occupations and survey research: methodological and substantive applications exploiting occupations as social contexts 1

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. Occupation as social context: An approach to estimating net contribution
Dr Jon Miller (University of Michigan, USA)
Dr Pamela Davis-kean (University of Michigan, USA)
Dr Linda Kimmel (University of Michigan, USA)

An individual's occupational experience provides one of several young adult contexts for socialization to society broadly and to specific political and economic beliefs. Occupation is often treated as an outcome variable and little attention has been paid to its socializing influence, especially during the first years after the completion of formal education. An assessment of its marginal influence is complex because of the prior and simultaneous influences of formal education and areas of concentration, family influences and values, and similar factors. This analysis will use longitudinal data from the U.S. to estimate the marginal influence of occupational socialization.

2. Payoff or penalty: The impact on wages for Australian young people arising from occupational task change.
Mr Patrick Lim (National Centre for Vocational Education Research)
Dr Harald Pfeifer (Federal Institute for Vocational Education and Training (BIBB))

This project uses several cohorts of the Longitudinal Surveys of Australian Youth (LSAY) to focus on changes in the task profile of occupations that may have occurred between the late 1990s and today. We expect that the payoff (wages) of these occupations may have changed over time, as technology and/or off-shoring has modified the types of activities required within occupations and some occupations may have disappeared from the Australian labour market completely. We will present the results for the group of young people entering the labour market in their first full-time job after completing their education.

3. Occupational closure and temporary employment in Germany
Mr Stefan Stuth (Berlin Social Science Center (WZB))

The aim of the presentation is to provide evidence that occupational closure determines the risk temporary employment. The presentation will first critically review conventional measures of occupational closure (e.g. credentialism). I introduce alternative measures of occupational closure – the credential saturation ratio and occupational specificity. Second: I present empirical evidence for the association between temporary employment and occupational closure using pooled-two-step multilevel analyses. Based on the full sample of the German Microcensus I am able to analyze detailed occupations. Third: I discuss possible methodological challenges researchers interested in occupations may encounter, when analyzing dichotomous dependent variables.

4. Understanding occupational change and occupations
Dr Michael Tiemann (Federal Institute for Vocational Education and Training)

In order to use occupation-level data for explaining social phenomena, we need to understand a) what occupations are, b) what characteristics best describe them and c) how they develop over time. Analysing this development gives useful insights into social change: the state of the division of labour at points in time and the process of differentiation over time. This proposal uses cross-sectional data (BIBB/BAuA Employment Surveys and their precursors), aggregated at the occupational level, to examine social change in the shape of occupational change. Ways of defining and operationalising occupations and of handling and analysing this specific