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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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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. James J. Heckman & Paul A. LaFontaine, 2010. "The American High School Graduation Rate: Trends and Levels," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 92(2), pages 244-262, May.
  2. Daron Acemoglu & David H. Autor & David Lyle, 2002. "Women, War and Wages: The Effect of Female Labor Supply on the Wage Structure at Mid-Century," NBER Working Papers 9013, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Maarten Goos & Alan Manning & Anna Salomons, 2009. "Job Polarization in Europe," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, American Economic Association, vol. 99(2), pages 58-63, May.
  4. Flavio Cunha & James Heckman & Susanne Schennach, 2010. "Estimating the technology of cognitive and noncognitive skill formation," CeMMAP working papers, Centre for Microdata Methods and Practice, Institute for Fiscal Studies CWP09/10, Centre for Microdata Methods and Practice, Institute for Fiscal Studies.
  5. Philip Oreopoulos & Kjell G. Salvanes, 2011. "Priceless: The Nonpecuniary Benefits of Schooling," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, American Economic Association, vol. 25(1), pages 159-84, Winter.
  6. Anderson, Michael L., 2008. "Multiple Inference and Gender Differences in the Effects of Early Intervention: A Reevaluation of the Abecedarian, Perry Preschool, and Early Training Projects," Journal of the American Statistical Association, American Statistical Association, American Statistical Association, vol. 103(484), pages 1481-1495.
  7. Atkinson, A B, 2008. "The Changing Distribution of Earnings in OECD Countries," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, Oxford University Press, number 9780199532438, October.
  8. Tinbergen, Jan, 1974. "Substitution of Graduate by Other Labour," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 27(2), pages 217-26.
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Cited by:
  1. Sánchez-Romero, Miguel & Sambt, Jože & Prskawetz, Alexia, 2013. "Quantifying the role of alternative pension reforms on the Austrian economy," Labour Economics, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 22(C), pages 94-114.
  2. 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).
  3. DEIDDA, Luca G. & PAOLINI , Dimitri & ,, 2013. "Wage premia, education race, and supply of educated workers," CORE Discussion Papers, Université catholique de Louvain, Center for Operations Research and Econometrics (CORE) 2013062, Université catholique de Louvain, Center for Operations Research and Econometrics (CORE).
  4. Isidro Soloaga & Mariana Pereira, 2013. "External Returns to Higher Education in Mexico 2000-2010," Working Papers, Universidad Iberoamericana, Department of Economics 0313, Universidad Iberoamericana, Department of Economics.
  5. Robert J. Gordon, 2012. "Is U.S. Economic Growth Over? Faltering Innovation Confronts the Six Headwinds," NBER Working Papers 18315, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Holzer, Harry J. & Dunlop, Erin, 2013. "Just the Facts, Ma'am: Postsecondary Education and Labor Market Outcomes in the U.S," IZA Discussion Papers 7319, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  7. 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, Institute of Economics, Centre for Economic and Regional Studies, Hungarian Academy of Sciences 1315, Institute of Economics, Centre for Economic and Regional Studies, Hungarian Academy of Sciences.
  8. Peter Cappelli, 2014. "Skill Gaps, Skill Shortages and Skill Mismatches: Evidence for the US," NBER Working Papers 20382, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

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