Regional patterns of job polarization: The case of Sweden

Authors: Rikard Eriksson*, Umea University, Martin Henning, Gothenburg University
Topics: Economic Geography
Keywords: Job polarization, regional divergence, Sweden
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/3/2019
Start / End Time: 4:30 PM / 6:10 PM
Room: Diplomat Room, Omni, West
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


While the total number of jobs in advanced capitalist economies do not yet seem to decline despite digitalization, automatization and offshoring, aggregate employment figures conceal pronounced transformation processes. First, today’s economic re-structuring seems to be marked by increasing divergence across regions. Second, the process of economic change entails an increasing polarization driven by the changing composition of jobs. While a sizeable literature deals with job polarization in a range of countries on national level and for the labour market as a whole, few studies have been concerned with this issue from a regional point of view. This despite the fact that job polarization patterns may have very different regional features, due to established patterns of spatial division of labour. The aim of this paper is to analyze the process of job polarization in relation to regional divergence in Sweden during the period 2002-2013. By means of matched employer-employee data containing detailed geo-referenced information on occupations, sectors and incomes we assess which segments of the labour market grow or decline, and in which particular regions these processes are taking place. In so doing, we can explicitly relate the process of regional divergence to the changing occupational structure of industries across space. Preliminary findings suggest a deepened spatial division of labour as only a minority of regions show growth in the total number of jobs. While regional job decline is driven by job losses in all income segments outside the largest regional centers, growing regions are characterized by increasing polarization.

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