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Specialization And The Skill Premium In The 20th Century

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  • Matthew F. Mitchell

Abstract

The skill premium fell substantially in the first part of the 20th century and then rose at the end of the century. I argue that these changes are connected to the organization of production. When production is organized into large plants, jobs become routinized, favoring less-skilled workers. A model is introduced that parameterizes capital's ability to do many tasks, that is, capital's flexibility. When calibrated to data on the distribution of plant sizes, the model can account for between half and two-thirds of the movement in the skill premium over the century. Copyright 2005 by the Economics Department Of The University Of Pennsylvania And Osaka University Institute Of Social And Economic Research Association.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association in its journal International Economic Review.

Volume (Year): 46 (2005)
Issue (Month): 3 (08)
Pages: 935-955

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Handle: RePEc:ier:iecrev:v:46:y:2005:i:3:p:935-955

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  1. Acemoglu, Daron, 1997. "Why Do New Technologies Complement Skills? Directed Technical Change and Wage Inequality," CEPR Discussion Papers 1707, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  2. Ellen R. McGrattan & Edward C. Prescott, 2000. "Is the stock market overvalued?," Quarterly Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, issue Fall, pages 20-40.
  3. Markus Mobius & Raphael Schoenle, 2006. "The Evolution of Work," NBER Working Papers 12694, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Gort, M. & Greenwood, J. & Rupert, P., 1998. "Measuring the Rate of Technological Progress in Structures," RCER Working Papers 457, University of Rochester - Center for Economic Research (RCER).
  5. Charles Brown & James L. Medoff, 1989. "The Employer Size-Wage Effect," NBER Working Papers 2870, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Griliches, Zvi, 1969. "Capital-Skill Complementarity," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 51(4), pages 465-68, November.
  7. Timothy Dunne & Lucia Foster & John Haltiwanger & Kenneth Troske, 2000. "Wage and Productivity Dispersion in U.S. Manufacturing: The Role of Computer Investment," Working Papers 00-01, Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau.
  8. Per Krusell & Lee E. Ohanian & JosÈ-Victor RÌos-Rull & Giovanni L. Violante, 2000. "Capital-Skill Complementarity and Inequality: A Macroeconomic Analysis," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 68(5), pages 1029-1054, September.
  9. Milgrom, Paul & Roberts, John, 1990. "The Economics of Modern Manufacturing: Technology, Strategy, and Organization," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 80(3), pages 511-28, June.
  10. David Thesmar & Mathias Thoenig, 2000. "Creative Destruction And Firm Organization Choice," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 115(4), pages 1201-1237, November.
  11. Claudia Goldin & Lawrence F. Katz, 1996. "The Origins of Technology-Skill Complementarity," NBER Working Papers 5657, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. Francesco Caselli, 1999. "Technological Revolutions," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(1), pages 78-102, March.
  13. Ingram, Beth F. & Neumann, George R., 2006. "The returns to skill," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 13(1), pages 35-59, February.
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Cited by:
  1. Hynninen, Sanna-Mari & Ojala, Jari & Pehkonen, Jaakko, 2013. "Technological change and wage premiums: Historical evidence from linked employer–employee data," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 24(C), pages 1-11.
  2. Thomas J. Holmes & Matthew F. Mitchell, 2008. "A theory of factor allocation and plant size," RAND Journal of Economics, RAND Corporation, vol. 39(2), pages 329-351.
  3. Sandén, Klas, 2007. "Shutdown Threats, Firm Fragmentation and the Skill Premium," Working Papers in Economics 265, University of Gothenburg, Department of Economics.
  4. Kurokawa, Yoshinori, 2006. "Trade and Variety-Skill Complementarity: A Simple Trade-Based Resolution of Wage Inequality Anomaly," MPRA Paper 14011, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  5. Richard Walker, 2005. "Superstars and Renaissance Men: Specialization, Market Size and the Income Distribution," CEP Discussion Papers dp0707, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
  6. Volker Meier & Ioana Cosmina Schiopu, 2012. "Optimal Higher Education Enrollment and Productivity Externalities in a Two-Sector Model," CESifo Working Paper Series 3889, CESifo Group Munich.
  7. Kurokawa, Yoshinori, 2010. "Fixed cost, number of firms, and skill premium: An alternative source for rising wage inequality," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 108(2), pages 141-144, August.
  8. Sushanta K. Mallick & Ricardo M. Sousa, 2012. "Is Technology Factor-Neutral? Evidence from the US Manufacturing Sector," NIPE Working Papers 26/2012, NIPE - Universidade do Minho.
  9. Yoshinori Kurokawa, 2011. "Variety-skill complementarity: a simple resolution of the trade-wage inequality anomaly," Economic Theory, Springer, vol. 46(2), pages 297-325, February.
  10. Gangopadhyay, Kausik & Nishimura, Atsushi & Pal, Rupayan, 2012. "Co-movement of skill premium and stock prices," Working Papers 2012-024, Madras School of Economics,Chennai,India.
  11. Andreas Hornstein & Per Krusell & Giovanni L. Violante, 2005. "The Effects of Technical Change on Labor Market Inequalities," Working Papers 89, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Center for Economic Policy Studies..

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