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Skill Biased Technological Change and Endogenous Benefits: The Dynamics of Unemployment and Wage Inequality

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  • Matthias Weiss

    ()

  • Alfred Garloff

    (Munich Center for the Economics of Aging (MEA))

Abstract

In this paper, we study the effect of skill-biased technological change on unemployment when benefits are linked to the evolution of average income and when this is not the case. In the former case, an increase in the productivity of skilled workers and hence their wage leads to an increase in average income and hence in benefits. The increased fallback income, in turn, makes unskilled workers ask for higher wages. As higher wages are not justified by respective productivity increases, unemployment rises. More generally, we show that skill-biased technological change leads to increasing unemployment of the unskilled when benefits are endogenous. The model provides a theoretical explanation for diverging developments in wage inequality and unemployment under different social benefits regimes: Analyzing the social legislation in 14 countries, we find that benefits are linked to the evolution of average income in Continental Europe but not in the U.S. and the UK. Given this institutional difference, our model predicts that skill-biased technological change leads to rising unemployment in Continental Europe and rising wage inequality in the U.S. and the UK.

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Paper provided by Munich Center for the Economics of Aging (MEA) at the Max Planck Institute for Social Law and Social Policy in its series MEA discussion paper series with number 05100.

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Date of creation: 14 Sep 2005
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Handle: RePEc:mea:meawpa:05100

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  1. 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.
  2. Eli Berman & John Bound & Stephen Machin, 1998. "Implications Of Skill-Biased Technological Change: International Evidence," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 113(4), pages 1245-1279, November.
  3. David H. Autor & Lawrence F. Katz & Alan B. Krueger, 1997. "Computing Inequality: Have Computers Changed the Labor Market?," NBER Working Papers 5956, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Robert E. Baldwin & Glen G. Cain, 1997. "Shifts in U.S. Relative Wages: The Role of Trade, Technology and Factor Endowments," NBER Working Papers 5934, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Nickell, Stephen & Bell, Brian, 1996. "Changes in the Distribution of Wages and Unemployment in OECD Countries," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 86(2), pages 302-08, May.
  6. Pierre Cahuc & André Zylberberg, 2004. "Labor Economics," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 026203316x, December.
  7. Foster, James E, 1998. "Absolute versus Relative Poverty," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 88(2), pages 335-41, May.
  8. Olivier Blanchard, 2005. "European Unemployment: The Evolution of Facts and Ideas," NBER Working Papers 11750, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Akerlof, George A & Yellen, Janet L, 1990. "The Fair Wage-Effort Hypothesis and Unemployment," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 105(2), pages 255-83, May.
  10. Daron Acemoglu, 2000. "Technical Change, Inequality, and the Labor Market," NBER Working Papers 7800, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. Stephen Nickell, 1997. "Unemployment and Labor Market Rigidities: Europe versus North America," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 11(3), pages 55-74, Summer.
  12. David Card & John E. DiNardo, 2002. "Skill Biased Technological Change and Rising Wage Inequality: Some Problems and Puzzles," NBER Working Papers 8769, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  13. Francesconi, Marco, et al, 2000. "Education and the Natural Rate of Unemployment," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 52(1), pages 204-23, January.
  14. Robert E. Baldwin & Glen G. Cain, 2000. "Shifts In Relative U.S. Wages: The Role Of Trade, Technology, And Factor Endowments," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 82(4), pages 580-595, November.
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Cited by:
  1. Melanie Lührmann & Matthias Weiss, 2006. "Market Work, Home Production, Consumer Demand and Unemployment among the Unskilled," MEA discussion paper series 06101, Munich Center for the Economics of Aging (MEA) at the Max Planck Institute for Social Law and Social Policy.
  2. Sandra T. Silva & Jorge M. S. Valente & Aurora A. C. Teixeira, 2007. "An evolutionary model of industry dynamics and firms' institutional behavior with job search, bargaining and matching," FEP Working Papers 241, Universidade do Porto, Faculdade de Economia do Porto.
  3. Horst Feldmann, 2013. "Technological unemployment in industrial countries," Journal of Evolutionary Economics, Springer, vol. 23(5), pages 1099-1126, November.
  4. Heblich, Stephan, 2007. "Eigenverantwortliche Individuen und Pro-Aktive Unternehmen," Passauer Diskussionspapiere, Volkswirtschaftliche Reihe V-48-07, University of Passau, Faculty of Business and Economics.
  5. Muysken, Joan & Vallizadeh, Ehsan & Ziesemer, Thomas, 2012. "Migration, Unemployment, and Over-qualification: A Specific Factors-Model Approach," EconStor Preprints 67479, ZBW - German National Library of Economics.
  6. Muysken, Joan & Vallizadeh, Ehsan & Ziesemer, Thomas, 2012. "The impact of Medium-Skilled immigration: A general equilibrium approach," MERIT Working Papers 055, United Nations University - Maastricht Economic and Social Research Institute on Innovation and Technology (MERIT).
  7. Garloff, Alfred, 2008. "Minimum wages, wage dispersion and unemployment : a review on new search models," IAB Discussion Paper 200833, Institut für Arbeitsmarkt- und Berufsforschung (IAB), Nürnberg [Institute for Employment Research, Nuremberg, Germany].
  8. Vallizadeh, Ehsan & Muysken, Joan & Ziesemer, Thomas, 2013. "Migration, unemployment and skill downgrading : a specific-factors approach," IAB Discussion Paper 201313, Institut für Arbeitsmarkt- und Berufsforschung (IAB), Nürnberg [Institute for Employment Research, Nuremberg, Germany].

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