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The Economics of the Digital Society

Edited by Luc Soete and Bas ter Weel

This important book presents a unique body of research into the economics of the digital society. It questions how modern economies have been transformed as a result of digital goods and markets, and explores the policy implications and challenges of this revolution.
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Chapter 8: Technological change, job stress and burnout

Bas Straathof and Rifka Weehuizen


* Bas Straathof and Rifka Weehuizen 8.1 INTRODUCTION New technologies do not only lead to the destruction of some jobs and the creation of others, they also change the composition of existing jobs. According to a study of the US labour market by Autor et al. (2003) a shift has been taking place from routine to non-routine tasks. This shift has been concentrated in the rapidly computerizing industries and started in the 1970s. Spitz (2004) reports that the task composition of German jobs also has shifted towards non-routine activities. In a study of the UK, Green et al. (2003) find that the spread in computer usage has coincided with an increase in job skills, which is an additional indication that non-routine tasks become more and more prevalent. Besides a change in the nature of work, the intensity of work has also changed. The Third European Survey on Working Conditions 2000 (Paoli and Merllié 2001) states that the proportion of workers in the EU that report they work at ‘high speed’ a quarter of the time or more rose from 47 per cent in 1990 to 56 per cent in 2000. The proportion of workers reporting they face ‘tight deadlines’ a quarter of the time or more also increased: from 49 per cent in 1990 to 60 per cent in 2000. Using the surveys of 1990 and 1995, Green and McIntosh (2001) find evidence that the intensification of work has been stronger for jobs that involve the use of a computer....

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