The Impact of Technological Change on Older Workers: Evidence from Data on Computers
AbstractThis paper explores the impact on older workers of new technologies that change skill requirements. Older workers, with older skills and less skills than prime-age workers, will suffer in comparison. Furthermore, if skill acquisition is costly, older workers have less incentive to acquire new skills because they have a shorter time horizon until retirement. Several data sets show that the rate of computer use is surprisingly flat over most ages but declines for the oldest workers. The evolution of computer use suggests that most workers, old or young, learn to use computers as needed, and further that older workers use computers less not because they are old, but because they are nearing retirement. In turn, we might expect older workers who do not use computers to retire sooner. In the Health and Retirement Survey non-computer users were 25% more likely to leave work between 1992 and 1996. Instrumental variables estimates, which aim to control for the impact of retirement plans on computer use, do not yield conclusive results, but they suggest that computer use lowers the retirement probability, especially for 55-59 year olds.
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Bibliographic InfoPaper provided by Department of Economics, UC San Diego in its series University of California at San Diego, Economics Working Paper Series with number qt1s97n77x.
Date of creation: 01 Jun 1999
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