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

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  • Olga M. Fuentes

    ()
    (Department of Economics, Boston University)

  • Simon Gilchrist

    ()
    (Department of Economics, 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 - Working Papers Series with number WP2005-045.

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Length: 24
Date of creation: Nov 2005
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:bos:wpaper:wp2005-045

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  1. Gordon H. Hanson & Ann Harrison, 1999. "Trade liberalization and wage inequality in Mexico," Industrial and Labor Relations Review, ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 52(2), pages 271-288, January.
  2. 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.
  3. E Berman & J Bound & Stephen Machin, 1997. "Implications of Skill-Biased Technological Change: International Evidence," CEP Discussion Papers dp0367, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
  4. Per Krusell & Lee E. Ohanian & Jose-Victor Rios-Rull & Giovanni L. Violante, 1997. "Capital-skill complementarity and inequality: a macroeconomic analysis," Staff Report 239, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  5. 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.
  6. Pavcnik, Nina, 2003. "What explains skill upgrading in less developed countries?," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 71(2), pages 311-328, August.
  7. Eaton, Jonathan & Kortum, Samuel, 2001. "Trade in capital goods," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 45(7), pages 1195-1235.
  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. 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.
  10. John Haltiwanger & Russell Cooper & Laura Power, 1999. "Machine Replacement and the Business Cycle: Lumps and Bumps," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(4), pages 921-946, September.
  11. 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.
  12. Nina Pavcnik, 2000. "Trade Liberalization, Exit, and Productivity Improvements: Evidence from Chilean Plants," NBER Working Papers 7852, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  13. James Levinsohn, 1996. "Firm Heterogeneity, Jobs, and International Trade: Evidence from Chile," NBER Working Papers 5808, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  14. repec:fth:coluec:713 is not listed on IDEAS
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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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