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Skill-biased technological change and endogenous benefits: the dynamics of unemployment and wage inequality

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  • Matthias Weiss
  • Alfred Garloff

Abstract

In this article, we study the effect of skill-biased technological change on unemployment and wage inequality in the presence of a link between social benefits and average income. In this case, an increase in the productivity of skilled workers, and hence their wage, leads to an increase in average income and hence in benefits. The increased fallback income, in turn, makes unskilled workers ask for higher wages. As higher wages are not justified by corresponding productivity increases, unemployment rises. Generally, we show that skill-biased technological change leads to increasing unemployment of the unskilled and to a moderately increasing wage inequality when benefits are endogenous. The model provides a theoretical explanation for diverging dynamics in wage inequality and unemployment under different social benefits regimes. Analysing the social legislation in 14 countries, we find that benefits are linked to the evolution of average income in Continental Europe but not in the US and the UK. Given this institutional difference, our model predicts that skill-biased technological change leads to rising unemployment in Continental Europe and rising wage inequality in the US and the UK.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Taylor & Francis Journals in its journal Applied Economics.

Volume (Year): 43 (2009)
Issue (Month): 7 ()
Pages: 811-821

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Handle: RePEc:taf:applec:v:43:y:2009:i:7:p:811-821

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Cited by:
  1. Heblich, Stephan, 2007. "Eigenverantwortliche Individuen und Pro-Aktive Unternehmen," Passauer Diskussionspapiere, Volkswirtschaftliche Reihe V-48-07, University of Passau, Faculty of Business and Economics.
  2. Garloff, Alfred, 2008. "Minimum wages, wage dispersion and unemployment : a review on new search models," IAB Discussion Paper 200833, Institut für Arbeitsmarkt- und Berufsforschung (IAB), Nürnberg [Institute for Employment Research, Nuremberg, Germany].
  3. Muysken, Joan & Vallizadeh, Ehsan & Ziesemer, Thomas, 2012. "Migration, Unemployment, and Over-qualification: A Specific-Factors Model Approach," MPRA Paper 43057, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  4. Horst Feldmann, 2013. "Technological unemployment in industrial countries," Journal of Evolutionary Economics, Springer, vol. 23(5), pages 1099-1126, November.
  5. Melanie Lührmann & Matthias Weiss, 2006. "Market Work, Home Production, Consumer Demand and Unemployment among the Unskilled," MEA discussion paper series 06101, Munich Center for the Economics of Aging (MEA) at the Max Planck Institute for Social Law and Social Policy.
  6. Sandra T. Silva & Jorge M. S. Valente & Aurora A. C. Teixeira, 2007. "An evolutionary model of industry dynamics and firms' institutional behavior with job search, bargaining and matching," FEP Working Papers 241, Universidade do Porto, Faculdade de Economia do Porto.
  7. Vallizadeh, Ehsan & Muysken, Joan & Ziesemer, Thomas, 2013. "Migration, unemployment and skill downgrading : a specific-factors approach," IAB Discussion Paper 201313, Institut für Arbeitsmarkt- und Berufsforschung (IAB), Nürnberg [Institute for Employment Research, Nuremberg, Germany].
  8. Vallizadeh, Ehsan & Joan, Muysken & Thomas, Ziesemer, 2012. "The impact of medium-skilled immigration: a general equilibrium approach," MPRA Paper 40006, University Library of Munich, Germany.

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