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Analyzing skilled and unskilled labor efficiencies in the US

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  • Unel, Bulent

Abstract

In this paper, I analyze the time paths of the efficiencies of skilled and unskilled labor in a production framework where skilled and unskilled labor are imperfect substitutes. Their implications for economic growth and wage inequality in the US between 1950 and 2005 present two main findings. First, although skilled labor efficiency has a strong upward trend, I find no evidence of acceleration in its growth rate to support the common view that there has been an acceleration in the new skilled-biased technologies. Second, beginning around 1970, there has been a decline in the absolute level of the efficiency of unskilled labor, implying that the decline has played a significant role in the overall productivity slowdown and the substantial widening in the US wage structure.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Journal of Macroeconomics.

Volume (Year): 32 (2010)
Issue (Month): 4 (December)
Pages: 957-967

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Handle: RePEc:eee:jmacro:v:32:y:2010:i:4:p:957-967

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Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/inca/622617

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Keywords: Growth accounting Skilled (unskilled) labor efficiency Skill-biased technical change Skill premium;

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References

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  1. Paolo Epifani & Gino Gancia, 2004. "The Skill Bias of World Trade," Working Papers 184, Barcelona Graduate School of Economics.
  2. Acemoglu, D., 1997. "Why Do New Technologies Complement Skills? Directed Technical Change and Wage Inequality," Working papers 97-14, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
  3. Francesco Caselli & Wilbur John Coleman II, 2002. "The U.S. Technology Frontier," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(2), pages 148-152, May.
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  8. Francesco Caselli & Wilbur John Coleman II, 2000. "The World Technology Frontier," NBER Working Papers 7904, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Miguel Székely & Nancy Birdsall & Jere R. Behrman, 2000. "Economics Reform and Wage Differentials in Latin America," IDB Publications 6476, Inter-American Development Bank.
  10. Jorgenson, Dale W., 2005. "Accounting for Growth in the Information Age," Handbook of Economic Growth, in: Philippe Aghion & Steven Durlauf (ed.), Handbook of Economic Growth, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 10, pages 743-815 Elsevier.
  11. David H. Autor & Lawrence F. Katz & Alan B. Krueger, 1998. "Computing Inequality: Have Computers Changed The Labor Market?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, MIT Press, vol. 113(4), pages 1169-1213, November.
  12. Daron Acemoglu, 2000. "Technical Change, Inequality, and the Labor Market," NBER Working Papers 7800, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  13. Charles I. Jones, . "Sources of U.S. Economic Growth in a World of Ideas," Working Papers, Stanford University, Department of Economics 98009, Stanford University, Department of Economics.
  14. Bulent Unel, . "Firm Heterogeneity, Trade, and Wage Inequality," Departmental Working Papers, Department of Economics, Louisiana State University 2008-02, Department of Economics, Louisiana State University.
  15. Paul Krugman, 1995. "Growing World Trade: Causes and Consequences," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 26(1, 25th A), pages 327-377.
  16. Bound, John & Johnson, George, 1992. "Changes in the Structure of Wages in the 1980's: An Evaluation of Alternative Explanations," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 82(3), pages 371-92, June.
  17. Per Krusell & Lee E. Ohanian & JosÈ-Victor RÌos-Rull & Giovanni L. Violante, 2000. "Capital-Skill Complementarity and Inequality: A Macroeconomic Analysis," Econometrica, Econometric Society, Econometric Society, vol. 68(5), pages 1029-1054, September.
  18. David H. Autor & Lawrence F. Katz & Melissa S. Kearney, 2008. "Trends in U.S. Wage Inequality: Revising the Revisionists," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 90(2), pages 300-323, May.
  19. Gordon, Robert J., 1990. "The Measurement of Durable Goods Prices," National Bureau of Economic Research Books, University of Chicago Press, edition 1, number 9780226304557, March.
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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Dinopoulos, Elias & Syropoulos, Constantinos & Xu, Bin & Yotov, Yoto V., 2011. "Intraindustry trade and the skill premium: Theory and evidence," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 84(1), pages 15-25, May.
  2. Trevor S. Gallen & Casey B. Mulligan, 2013. "Wedges, Labor Market Behavior, and Health Insurance Coverage under the Affordable Care Act," NBER Working Papers 19770, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Naci H. Mocan & Bulent Unel, 2011. "Skill-biased Technological Change, Earnings of Unskilled Workers, and Crime," NBER Working Papers 17605, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Casey B. Mulligan & Trevor S. Gallen, 2013. "Wedges, Wages, and Productivity under the Affordable Care Act," NBER Working Papers 19771, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

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