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Skill-Biased Technological Change and Rising Wage Inequality: Some Problems and Puzzles

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  • David Card

    (University of California Berkeley and National Bureau of Economic Research)

  • John E. DiNardo

    (University of Michigan and National Bureau of Economic Research)

Abstract

The recent rise in wage inequality is usually attributed to skill-biased technical change (SBTC), associated with new computer technologies. We review the evidence for this hypothesis, focusing on the implications of SBTC for overall wage inequality and for changes in wage differentials between groups. A key problem for the SBTC hypothesis is that wage inequality stabilized in the 1990s despite continuing advances in computer technology; SBTC also fails to explain the evolution of other dimensions of wage inequality, including the gender and racial wage gaps and the age gradient in the return to education.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by University of Chicago Press in its journal Journal of Labor Economics.

Volume (Year): 20 (2002)
Issue (Month): 4 (October)
Pages: 733-783

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Handle: RePEc:ucp:jlabec:v:20:y:2002:i:4:p:733-783

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  1. Bruce A. Weinberg, 2000. "Computer use and the demand for female workers," Industrial and Labor Relations Review, ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 53(2), pages 290-308, January.
  2. Timothy F. Bresnahan & Erik Brynjolfsson & Lorin M. Hitt, 2002. "Information Technology, Workplace Organization, And The Demand For Skilled Labor: Firm-Level Evidence," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 117(1), pages 339-376, February.
  3. Bresnahan, Timothy F, 1999. "Computerisation and Wage Dispersion: An Analytical Reinterpretation," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 109(456), pages F390-415, June.
  4. Thomas Lemieux & Nicole M. Fortin, 2000. "Are Women's Wage Gains Men's Losses? A Distributional Test," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(2), pages 456-460, May.
  5. George E. Johnson, 1997. "Changes in Earnings Inequality: The Role of Demand Shifts," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 11(2), pages 41-54, Spring.
  6. Fortin, N.M. & Lemieux, T., 1996. "Rank Regressions, Wage Distributions and the Gender Gap," Cahiers de recherche 9607, Universite de Montreal, Departement de sciences economiques.
  7. Juhn, Chinhui & Murphy, Kevin M & Pierce, Brooks, 1993. "Wage Inequality and the Rise in Returns to Skill," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 101(3), pages 410-42, June.
  8. Francine D. Blau & Lawrence M. Kahn, 2003. "Understanding International Differences in the Gender Pay Gap," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 21(1), pages 106-144, January.
  9. Anne E. Polivka, 1996. "Data Watch: The Redesigned Current Population Survey," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 10(3), pages 169-180, Summer.
  10. Katz, Lawrence F. & Autor, David H., 1999. "Changes in the wage structure and earnings inequality," Handbook of Labor Economics, in: O. Ashenfelter & D. Card (ed.), Handbook of Labor Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 26, pages 1463-1555 Elsevier.
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