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The Economics of Productive Systems: Segmentation and Skill-Biased Change

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  • Gilles Duranton

Abstract

In this paper we introduce the concept of productive systems. Assuming a complementarity between skills and technology (more 'complex' technologies are intrinsically more productive but they require a more skilled labour force) and gains from the division of labor, firms face a trade-off between simple technologies for which the labor force is abundant and more complex technologies with less division of labor. In equilibrium, the economy is partitioned into productive systems working at different levels of complexity. The distribution of skills determines the boundaries of the productive systems, which in turn determine the wages. Thus, changes in the distribution of skills can have a dramatic effect upon wage inequalities. In particular an increase in skilled workers can induce first higher wages for all workers and then higher wages for the skilled but lower wages for the unskilled. This seems consistent with the recent evolution of the labor market.

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Paper provided by Centre for Economic Performance, LSE in its series CEP Discussion Papers with number dp0398.

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Date of creation: Jul 1998
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Handle: RePEc:cep:cepdps:dp0398

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  1. Acemoglu, Daron, 1996. "Changes in Unemployment and Wage Inequality: An Alternative Theory and Some Evidence," CEPR Discussion Papers 1459, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  2. Claudia Goldin & Lawrence F. Katz, 1999. "The Returns to Skill in the United States across the Twentieth Century," NBER Working Papers 7126, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  5. 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.
  6. Charles I. Jones, . "Sources of U.S. Economic Growth in a World of Ideas," Working Papers 98009, Stanford University, Department of Economics.
  7. Francesco Caselli, 1999. "Technological Revolutions," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(1), pages 78-102, March.
  8. Michael T. Kiley, 1997. "The supply of skilled labor and skill-based technological progress," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 1997-45, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  9. Peter Gottschalk & Timothy M. Smeeding, 1997. "Cross-National Comparisons of Earnings and Income Inequality," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 35(2), pages 633-687, June.
  10. Daron Acemoglu, 1998. "Why Do New Technologies Complement Skills? Directed Technical Change And Wage Inequality," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 113(4), pages 1055-1089, November.
  11. Dale W. Jorgenson, 2001. "Information Technology and the U.S. Economy," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(1), pages 1-32, March.
  12. Kiminiori Matsuyama, 1994. "Complementaries and Cumulative Processes In Models of Monopolistic Competition," Discussion Papers 1106, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
  13. 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.
  14. Françis KRAMARZ & Francis KRAMARZ & Louis-Paul PELÉ, 1996. "Wage Inequalities and Firm-Specific Compensation policies in France," Annales d'Economie et de Statistique, ENSAE, issue 41-42, pages 369-386.
  15. 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.
  16. Freeman, Richard, 1995. "The Limits of Wage Flexibility to Curing Unemployment," Oxford Review of Economic Policy, Oxford University Press, vol. 11(1), pages 63-72, Spring.
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Cited by:
  1. Rosén, Åsa & Wasmer, Etienne, 2001. "Higher Education Levels, Firms' Outside Options and the Wage Structure," Working Paper Series 1/2001, Swedish Institute for Social Research.
  2. Hornstein, Andreas & Krusell, Per & Violante, Giovanni L., 2005. "The Effects of Technical Change on Labor Market Inequalities," Handbook of Economic Growth, in: Philippe Aghion & Steven Durlauf (ed.), Handbook of Economic Growth, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 20, pages 1275-1370 Elsevier.
  3. Daron Acemoglu, 2005. "Equilibrium Bias of Technology," NBER Working Papers 11845, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Schlitte, Friso & Böttcher, Fabian & Niebuhr, Annekatrin & Diez, Javier Revilla, 2010. "The determinants of regional disparities in skill segregation: Evidence from a cross section of German regions," HWWI Research Papers 1-36, Hamburg Institute of International Economics (HWWI).
  5. Paul Beaudry & David Green, 2001. "Population Growth, Technological Adoption and Economic Outcomes: A Theory of Cross-Country Differences for the Information Era," NBER Working Papers 8149, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Schlitte, Friso, 2010. "Local human capital, segregation by skill, and skill-specific employment growth," IAB Discussion Paper 201022, Institut für Arbeitsmarkt- und Berufsforschung (IAB), Nürnberg [Institute for Employment Research, Nuremberg, Germany].
  7. Paul Beaudry & David Green, 2000. "The Changing Structure of Wages in the US and Germany: What Explains the Differences?," NBER Working Papers 7697, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Jeemol Unni, 2006. "Home-based Work in India: A Disappearing Continuum of Dependence?," Working Papers id:379, eSocialSciences.
  9. Basant, Rakesh & Rani Uma, . "Labour Market Deepening in the Indian Information Technology Industry: An Exploratory Analysis," IIMA Working Papers WP2004-06-06, Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad, Research and Publication Department.
  10. Annekatrin Niebuhr & Javier Revilla Diez & Fabian Böttcher & Friso Schlitte, 2011. "The determinants of regional disparities in skill segregation – Evidence from a cross section of German regions," ERSA conference papers ersa10p640, European Regional Science Association.

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