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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. 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.
  2. Griliches, Zvi, 1969. "Capital-Skill Complementarity," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 51(4), pages 465-68, November.
  3. Ellen R. McGrattan & Edward C. Prescott, 2001. "Is the Stock Market Overvalued?," NBER Working Papers 8077, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. 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.
  5. Charles Brown & James L. Medoff, 1989. "The Employer Size-Wage Effect," NBER Working Papers 2870, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. Markus Mobius & Raphael Schoenle, 2006. "The Evolution of Work," NBER Working Papers 12694, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Ingram, Beth F. & Neumann, George R., 2006. "The returns to skill," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 13(1), pages 35-59, February.
  10. Michael Gort & Jeremy Greenwood & Peter Rupert, 1999. "Measuring the Rate of Technological Progress in Structures," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 2(1), pages 207-230, January.
  11. Claudia Goldin & Lawrence F. Katz, 1998. "The Origins Of Technology-Skill Complementarity," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 113(3), pages 693-732, August.
  12. 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.
  13. Francesco Caselli, 1999. "Technological Revolutions," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(1), pages 78-102, March.
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Cited by:
  1. Sandén, Klas, 2007. "Shutdown Threats, Firm Fragmentation and the Skill Premium," Working Papers in Economics 265, University of Gothenburg, Department of Economics.
  2. Volker Meier & Ioana Schiopu, 2013. "Optimal higher education enrollment and productivity externalities in a two-sector model," Ifo Working Paper Series Ifo Working Paper No. 170, Ifo Institute for Economic Research at the University of Munich.
  3. Thomas J. Holmes & Matthew F. Mitchell, 2003. "A theory of factor allocation and plant size," Staff Report 325, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  4. Kurokawa, Yoshinori, 2008. "Fixed Cost, Number of Firms, and Skill Premium: An Alternative Source for Rising Wage Inequality," MPRA Paper 14014, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  5. Yoshinori Kurokawa, 2009. "Variety-Skill Complementarity: A Simple Resolution of the Trade-Wage Inequality Anomaly," Tsukuba Economics Working Papers 2009-007, Economics, Graduate School of Humanities and Social Sciences, University of Tsukuba.
  6. Richard Walker, 2005. "Superstars and Renaissance Men: Specialization, Market Size and the Income Distribution," CEP Discussion Papers dp0707, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
  7. 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..
  8. Gangopadhyay, Kausik & Nishimura, Atsushi & Pal, Rupayan, 2012. "Co-movement of skill premium and stock prices," Indira Gandhi Institute of Development Research, Mumbai Working Papers 2012-024, Indira Gandhi Institute of Development Research, Mumbai, India.
  9. 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.
  10. Richard Walker, 2005. "Superstars and renaissance men: specialization, market size and the income distribution," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 19880, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
  11. 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.
  12. 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.

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