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Skill-biased Technology Adoption: Evidence for the Chilean manufacturing sector

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  • Olga M. Fuentes

    ()
    (Institute for Economic Development,Boston University)

  • Simon Gilchrist

    ()
    (Institute for Economic Development,Boston University)

Abstract

We examine the evolution of the demand for skilled workers relative to unskilled workers in the Chilean manufacturing sector following Chile’s liberalization of trade in the late 1970’s. Following such trade reforms, the standard Heckscher-Olin model predicts that a low labor-cost country like Chile should experience an increased demand for low skilled workers relative to high skilled workers. Alternatively, if trade liberalization is associated with the adoption of new technologies, and technology is skill-biased, the relative demand for skilled workers may rise. Using a newly available plant-level data set that spans the sixteen year period 1979-1995, we find that the relative demand for skilled workers rose sharply during the 1979-1986 period and then stabilized. The sharp increase in demand for skilled workers coincided with an increased propensity to adopt new technologies as measured by patent usage. Plant-level analysis of labor demand confirms a significant relationship between the relative demand for skilled workers and technology adoption as measured by patent usage and other technology indicators. Our results suggest that skill-biased technological change is a significant determinant of labor demand and wage structures in developing economies.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Boston University - Department of Economics in its series Boston University - Department of Economics - The Institute for Economic Development Working Papers Series with number dp-150.

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Length: 24
Date of creation: Nov 2005
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:bos:iedwpr:dp-150

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  1. 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.
  2. Tybout, James & de Melo, Jaime & Corbo, Vittorio, 1990. "The effects of trade reforms on scale and technical efficiency : new evidence from Chile," Policy Research Working Paper Series 481, The World Bank.
  3. Levinsohn, J., 1996. "Frim Heterogeneity, Jobs, and International Trade: Evidence from Chile," Working Papers 390, Research Seminar in International Economics, University of Michigan.
  4. Jonathan Eaton & Samuel Kortum, 2001. "Trade in Capital Goods," NBER Working Papers 8070, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Eli Berman & John Bound & Stephen Machin, 1997. "Implications of Skill-Biased Technological Change: International Evidence," Boston University - Institute for Economic Development 78, Boston University, Institute for Economic Development.
  6. Russell Cooper & John Haltiwanger & Laura Power, 1995. "Machine Replacement and the Business Cycle: Lumps and Bumps," Papers 0062, Boston University - Industry Studies Programme.
  7. Machin, S. & Van Reenen, J., 1997. "Technology and Changes in Skill Structure: Evidence from Seven OECD Countries," Papers 24, Centre for Economic Performance & Institute of Economics.
  8. Revenga, Ana, 1997. "Employment and Wage Effects of Trade Liberalization: The Case of Mexican Manufacturing," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 15(3), pages S20-43, July.
  9. Pavcnik, Nina, 2003. "What explains skill upgrading in less developed countries?," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 71(2), pages 311-328, August.
  10. Pavcnik, Nina, 2002. "Trade Liberalization, Exit, and Productivity Improvement: Evidence from Chilean Plants," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 69(1), pages 245-76, January.
  11. 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.
  12. repec:fth:coluec:713 is not listed on IDEAS
  13. Berman, Eli & Machin, Stephen, 2000. "Skill-Based Technology Transfer around the World," Oxford Review of Economic Policy, Oxford University Press, vol. 16(3), pages 12-22, Autumn.
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Cited by:
  1. Christopher L. House, 2008. "Fixed Costs and Long-Lived Investments," NBER Working Papers 14402, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

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