The Rise of the Service Economy

Joseph Kaboski
Francisco J. Buera
Publication Type: 
Working Papers
Publication Year: 

This paper analyzes the role of specialized high-skilled labor in the growth of the service sector as a share of the total economy. Empirically, we emphasize that the growth has been driven by the consumption of services. Rather than being driven by low-skill jobs, the importance of skill-intensive services has risen, and this has coincided with a period of rising relative wages and quantities of high-skilled labor. We develop a theory where demand shifts toward ever more skill-intensive output as income rises, and because skills are highly specialized this lowers the importance of home production relative to market services. The theory is also consistent with a rising level of skill and skill premium, a rising relative price of services that is linked to this skill premium, and rich product cycles between home and market, all of which are observed in the data.

Labor Markets