David Deming: The Growing Importance of Social Skills in the Labor Market


Monday, October 5, 2015, 12:00pm to 1:45pm


Harvard Kennedy School: Allison Dining Room

David Deming, Associate Professor of Education and Economics, Harvard Graduate School of Education.

The slow growth of high-paying jobs in the U.S. since 2000 and rapid advances in computer technology have sparked fears that human labor will eventually be rendered obsolete. Yet while computers perform cognitive tasks of rapidly increasing complexity, simple human interaction has proven difficult to automate.  

In this seminar, Deming will show that the labor market increasingly rewards social skills. Since 1980, jobs with high social skill requirements have experienced greater relative growth throughout the wage distribution. Moreover, employment and wage growth has been strongest in jobs that require high levels of both cognitive skill and social skill. The female advantage in social skills may have played some role in the narrowing of gender gaps in labor market outcomes since 1980.

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About the speaker

David Deming is an associate professor at the Harvard Graduate School of Education and a faculty research fellow at the National Bureau of Economic Research.

His research focuses broadly on the economics of skill development, education and the labor  market. Deming recently received the Early Career Award from the Association for Education Finance and Policy (AEFP). In 2013 he was named a William T. Grant Scholar for his project, The Long-Run Influence of School Accountability: Impacts, Mechanisms and Policy Implications.

Deming, a former Inequality & Social Policy doctoral fellow, received his Ph.D. in Public Policy from Harvard in 2010.

See also: Fall 2015