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Capital-Skill complementarity? Evidence from a Panel of Countries

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Since Griliches (1969), researchers have been intrigued by the idea that physical capital and skilled labor are relatively more complementary than physical capital and unskilled labor. This capital-skill complementarity hypothesis has received renewed attention recently, as researchers have suggested that this phenomenon might account for rising wage inequality between skilled and unskilled workers in several developed countries. In this paper we consider the cross-country evidence for capital--skill complementarity using a time-series, cross-section panel of 73 developed and less developed countries over a 25 year period. In particular, we focus on three empirical issues. First, what is the best specification of the aggregate production technology to address the capital-skill complementarity hypothesis. Second, how should we measure skilled labor? Finally, is there any cross-country evidence in support of the capital-skill complementarity hypothesis? Our main finding is that we are unable to reject the null hypothesis of no capital-skill complementarity using our panel data set.

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Paper provided by Department of Economics, Louisiana State University in its series Departmental Working Papers with number 2003-12.

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Handle: RePEc:lsu:lsuwpp:2003-12

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  1. E. Berman & J. Bound & S. Machin, 1997. "Implications of skill-biased technological change: international evidence," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 20314, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
  2. Flug, K. & Hercowitz, Z., 1998. "Equipment Investment and the Relative Demand for Skilled Labour: International Evidence," Papers 05-98, Tel Aviv.
  3. Duffy, John & Papageorgiou, Chris, 2000. " A Cross-Country Empirical Investigation of the Aggregate Production Function Specification," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 5(1), pages 87-120, March.
  4. Robert J. Barro & Jong-Wha Lee, 2000. "International Data on Educational Attainment: Updates and Implications," CID Working Papers, Center for International Development at Harvard University 42, Center for International Development at Harvard University.
  5. Bergstrom, Villy & Panas, Epaminondas E, 1992. "How Robust Is the Capital-Skill Complementarity Hypothesis?," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 74(3), pages 540-46, August.
  6. Fallon, P R & Layard, P R G, 1975. "Capital-Skill Complementarity, Income Distribution, and Output Accounting," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, University of Chicago Press, vol. 83(2), pages 279-301, April.
  7. Kumar, T Krishna & Gapinski, James H, 1974. "Nonlinear Estimation of the CES Production Parameters: A Monte Carlo Study," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 56(4), pages 563-67, November.
  8. Stokey, Nancy L, 1996. " Free Trade, Factor Returns, and Factor Accumulation," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 1(4), pages 421-47, December.
  9. Thursby, Jerry, 1980. "Alternative CES Estimation Techniques," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 62(2), pages 295-99, May.
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