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The Origins Of Technology-Skill Complementarity

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  • Claudia Goldin
  • Lawrence F. Katz

Abstract

Current concern with the impact of new technologies on the wage structure motivates this study. We offer evidence that technology-skill and capital-skill (relative) complementarities existed in manufacturing early in this century and were related to the adoption of electric motors and particular production methods. Industries, from 1909 to 1929, with more capital per worker and a greater proportion of motive energy coming from purchased electricity employed relatively more educated blue-collar workers in 1940 and paid their production workers substantially more. We also find a strong positive association between changes in capital intensity and the nonproduction worker wage bill from 1909-1919 implying capital-skill complementarity as large as in recent years. © 2000 the President and Fellows of Harvard College and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by MIT Press in its journal The Quarterly Journal of Economics.

Volume (Year): 113 (1998)
Issue (Month): 3 (August)
Pages: 693-732

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Handle: RePEc:tpr:qjecon:v:113:y:1998:i:3:p:693-732

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  1. David Autor, 2000. "Wiring the Labor Market," NBER Working Papers 7959, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. 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.
  3. Bartel, A.P. & Sicherman, N., 1995. "Technological Change and the Skill Acquisition of Young Workers," Papers 95-10, Columbia - Graduate School of Business.
  4. Jacob Mincer, 1989. "Human Capital Responses to Technological Change in the Labor Market," NBER Working Papers 3207, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Doms, Mark & Dunne, Timothy & Troske, Kenneth R, 1997. "Workers, Wages, and Technology," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 112(1), pages 253-90, February.
  6. Fallon, P R & Layard, P R G, 1975. "Capital-Skill Complementarity, Income Distribution, and Output Accounting," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 83(2), pages 279-301, April.
  7. Steven G. Allen, 1996. "Technology and the Wage Structure," NBER Working Papers 5534, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Bartel, Ann P & Sicherman, Nachum, 1998. "Technological Change and the Skill Acquisition of Young Workers," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 16(4), pages 718-55, October.
  9. Ernst R. Berndt & Catherine J. Morrison & Larry S. Rosenblum, 1992. "High-Tech Capital Formation and Labor Composition in U.S. Manufacturing Industries: An Exploratory Analysis," NBER Working Papers 4010, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  11. Kenneth L. Sokoloff, 1986. "Productivity Growth in Manufacturing during Early Industrialization: Evidence from the American Northeast, 1820-1860," NBER Chapters, in: Long-Term Factors in American Economic Growth, pages 679-736 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. Eli Berman & John Bound & Zvi Griliches, 1993. "Changes in the Demand for Skilled Labor within U.S. Manufacturing Industries: Evidence from the Annual Survey of Manufacturing," NBER Working Papers 4255, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  13. Griliches, Zvi, 1969. "Capital-Skill Complementarity," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 51(4), pages 465-68, November.
  14. Devine, Warren D., 1983. "From Shafts to Wires: Historical Perspective on Electrification," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 43(02), pages 347-372, June.
  15. Daniel Creamer & Sergei Dobrovolsky & Israel Borenstein, 1960. "Capital in Manufacturing and Mining: Its Formation and Financing," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number crea60-1, May.
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