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Adjusting to a New Technology: Experience and Training

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  • Helpman, Elhanan
  • Rangel, Antonio

Abstract

How does the economy react to the arrival of a new major technology? The existing literature on general-purpose technologies (GPTs) has studied the role that mechanisms like secondary innovations, diffusion, and learning by firms play in the adjustment process. By contrast, we focus on a new mechanism: the interplay between technological change and two types of human capital-technology-specific experience and education. We show that technological change that requires more education and training, like computerization, necessarily produces an initial slowdown. On the other hand, technological change that lowers the training requirements, like the move from the artisan shop to the factory, can produce either a bust or a boom. We identify three key properties that determine the outcome: (1) the productivity of inexperienced workers, (2) the speed with which experience raises productivity, and (3) the level of general skills required to operate the new technology. Copyright 1999 by Kluwer Academic Publishers

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Springer in its journal Journal of Economic Growth.

Volume (Year): 4 (1999)
Issue (Month): 4 (December)
Pages: 359-83

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Handle: RePEc:kap:jecgro:v:4:y:1999:i:4:p:359-83

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Web page: http://www.springerlink.com/link.asp?id=102931

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  1. Elhanan Helpman & Manuel Trajtenberg, 1994. "A Time to Sow and a Time to Reap: Growth Based on General Purpose Technologies," NBER Working Papers 4854, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Helpman, E. & Trajtenberg, M., 1996. "Diffusion of General Purpose Technologies," Papers 24-96, Tel Aviv - the Sackler Institute of Economic Studies.
  3. repec:fth:prinin:377 is not listed on IDEAS
  4. David Autor & Lawrence Katz & Alan Krueger, 1997. "Computing Inequality: Have Computers Changed the Labor Market?," Working Papers 756, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
  5. Philippe AGHION & Peter HOWITT, 1998. "On the Macroeconomic Effects of Major Technological Change," Annales d'Economie et de Statistique, ENSAE, issue 49-50, pages 53-75.
  6. Murphy, Kevin M & Welch, Finis, 1990. "Empirical Age-Earnings Profiles," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 8(2), pages 202-29, April.
  7. Andreas Hornstein & Per Krusell, 1996. "Can Technology Improvements Cause Productivity Slowdowns?," NBER Chapters, in: NBER Macroeconomics Annual 1996, Volume 11, pages 209-276 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Bartel, Ann P & Lichtenberg, Frank R, 1987. "The Comparative Advantage of Educated Workers in Implementing New Technology," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 69(1), pages 1-11, February.
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