Publication Date



Upjohn Institute working paper ; 23-382




How does a large structural change to the labor market affect education investments made at young ages? Exploiting differential exposure to the national decline in routine-task intensity across local labor markets, we show that the secular decline in routine tasks causes major shifts in education investments of high school students, where they invest less in vocational-trades education and increasingly invest in college education. Our results highlight that labor demand changes impact inequality in the next generation. Low-ability and low-SES students are most responsive to task-biased demand changes and, as a result, intergenerational mobility in college education increases.

Issue Date

March 2023


Upjohn project #58156

Subject Areas

EDUCATION; K-12 Education; Postsecondary education; Career and technical education; LABOR MARKET ISSUES; Local labor markets


Get in touch with the expert

Want to arrange to discuss this work with the author(s)? Contact our .



Bennett, Patrick, Kai Liu, and Kjell Salvanes. 2023. "The Decline of Routine Tasks, Education Investments, And Intergenerational Mobility." Upjohn Institute Working Paper 23-382. Kalamazoo, MI: W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research.