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What Does Human Capital Do? A Review of Goldin and Katz's The Race between Education and Technology

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  • Daron Acemoglu
  • David Autor

Abstract

Goldin and Katz's The Race between Education and Technology is a monumental achievement that supplies a unified framework for interpreting how the demand and supply of human capital have shaped the distribution of earnings in the U.S. labor market over the twentieth century. This essay reviews the theoretical and conceptual underpinnings of this work and documents the success of Goldin and Katz's framework in accounting for numerous broad labor market trends. The essay also considers areas where the framework falls short in explaining several key labor market puzzles of recent decades and argues that these shortcomings can potentially be overcome by relaxing the implicit equivalence drawn between workers' skills and their job tasks in the conceptual framework on which Goldin and Katz build. The essay argues that allowing for a richer set of interactions between skills and technologies in accomplishing job tasks both augments and refines the predictions of Goldin and Katz's approach and suggests an even more important role for human capital in economic growth than indicated by their analysis. (JEL I20, J24, J31, O30)

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File URL: http://www.aeaweb.org/articles.php?doi=10.1257/jel.50.2.426
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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by American Economic Association in its journal Journal of Economic Literature.

Volume (Year): 50 (2012)
Issue (Month): 2 (June)
Pages: 426-63

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Handle: RePEc:aea:jeclit:v:50:y:2012:i:2:p:426-63

Note: DOI: 10.1257/jel.50.2.426
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  1. Daron Acemoglu & David H. Autor & David Lyle, 2004. "Women, War, and Wages: The Effect of Female Labor Supply on the Wage Structure at Midcentury," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 112(3), pages 497-551, June.
  2. Heckman, James J. & LaFontaine, Paul A., 2007. "The American High School Graduation Rate: Trends and Levels," IZA Discussion Papers 3216, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  3. Tinbergen, Jan, 1974. "Substitution of Graduate by Other Labour," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 27(2), pages 217-26.
  4. Philip Oreopoulos & Kjell G. Salvanes, 2011. "Priceless: The Nonpecuniary Benefits of Schooling," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 25(1), pages 159-84, Winter.
  5. Atkinson, A B, 2008. "The Changing Distribution of Earnings in OECD Countries," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780199532438.
  6. Maarten Goos & Alan Manning & Anna Salomons, 2009. "Job Polarization in Europe," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 99(2), pages 58-63, May.
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Cited by:
  1. J nos Kollo, 2013. "Patterns of Integration: Low Educated People and their Jobs in Norway, Italy and Hungary," Budapest Working Papers on the Labour Market 1315, Institute of Economics, Centre for Economic and Regional Studies, Hungarian Academy of Sciences.
  2. DEIDDA, Luca G. & PAOLINI , Dimitri & ,, 2013. "Wage premia, education race, and supply of educated workers," CORE Discussion Papers 2013062, Université catholique de Louvain, Center for Operations Research and Econometrics (CORE).
  3. Kollo, Janos, 2013. "Patterns of Integration: Low Educated People and their Jobs in Norway, Italy and Hungary," IZA Discussion Papers 7632, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  4. Sánchez-Romero, Miguel & Sambt, Jože & Prskawetz, Alexia, 2012. "Quantifying the role of alternative pension reforms on the Austrian economy," ECON WPS - Vienna University of Technology Working Papers in Economic Theory and Policy 04/2012, Vienna University of Technology, Institute for Mathematical Methods in Economics, Research Group Economics (ECON).
  5. Isidro Soloaga & Mariana Pereira, 2013. "External Returns to Higher Education in Mexico 2000-2010," Working Papers 0313, Universidad Iberoamericana, Department of Economics.

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