Technological changes, wage inequality and skill premiums: Evidence over three centuries
AbstractThis study analyses the evolution of wages and occupational composition of labour over three centuries, from 1755 to 1914, using worker-workplace data. The data from one industry offers a unique view on long-term trends in skill composition, wage inequality and occupational wage premiums. A major shift in the production technology, a shift from sail-only vessels to steam-operated vessels, in turn, allows the examination the popular skill-biased technological change (SBTC) hypothesis in a well-defined setting. We find that (i) technological change had both a new-skill-demanding aspect, showing up as an increase in the demand for skilled engineers, and a skill-replacing aspect, resulting in a decline in the demand for skilled able-bodied seamen and an increase in unskilled engine room operatives, (ii) increasing wage inequality in the latter part of the 18th century was associated with the emergence of new skilled occupations and rising wages of skilled seamen, and (iii) wage inequality evolved slowly over time and there were different, declining and rising phases in wage inequality.
Download InfoIf you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.
Bibliographic InfoPaper provided by Government Institute for Economic Research Finland (VATT) in its series Working Papers with number 5.
Date of creation: 10 Jun 2009
Date of revision:
Find related papers by JEL classification:
- J31 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Wage Level and Structure; Wage Differentials
This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:
- NEP-ALL-2009-08-16 (All new papers)
- NEP-HIS-2009-08-16 (Business, Economic & Financial History)
- NEP-LAB-2009-08-16 (Labour Economics)
You can help add them by filling out this form.
reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.Access and download statisticsgeneral information about how to correct material in RePEc.
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Anita Niskanen).
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.