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The Returns to Computer Use Revisited: Have Pencils Changed the Wage Structure Too?

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  • John E. DiNardo
  • Jorn-Steffen Pischke

Abstract

Are the large measured wage differentials associated with on-the-job computer use productivity gains or the result of unobserved heterogeneity? We examine this issue with three large cross-sectional surveys from Germany. First, we confirm that the estimated wage differentials associated with computer use in Germany are very similar to the U.S. differential. Second, using the same techniques we also measure large differentials for on-the-job use of calculators, telephones, pens or pencils, or for those who work while sitting down. Along with our reanalysis of the U.S. data these findings cast some doubt on the interpretation of the computer-use wage differential as reflecting productivity effects arising from the introduction of computers in the workplace.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 5606.

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Date of creation: Jun 1996
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Publication status: published as Quarterly Journal of Economics, Vol. 112 (February 1997): 291-303.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:5606

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  1. Steven M. Fazzari & R. Glenn Hubbard & BRUCE C. PETERSEN, 1988. "Financing Constraints and Corporate Investment," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 19(1), pages 141-206.
  2. David Card & Thomas Lemieux, 1993. "Wage Dispersion, Returns to Skill, and Black-White Wage Differentials," Working Papers 691, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
  3. Stephen D. Oliner & Daniel E. Sichel, 1994. "Computers and Output Growth Revisited: How Big Is the Puzzle?," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 25(2), pages 273-334.
  4. Paul Krugman, 1994. "Past and prospective causes of high unemployment," Economic Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, issue Q IV, pages 23-43.
  5. Entorf, Horst & Gollac, Michel & Kramarz, Francis, 1997. "New Technologies, Wages and Worker Selection," CEPR Discussion Papers 1761, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  6. Marcello Estevao & Stacey Tevlin, 1995. "The role of profits in wage determination: evidence from US manufacturing," Finance and Economics Discussion Series, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.) 95-48, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  7. Blanchflower, David G & Oswald, Andrew J & Sanfey, Peter, 1996. "Wages, Profits, and Rent-Sharing," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, MIT Press, vol. 111(1), pages 227-51, February.
  8. Brian D. Bell, . "Skill-Biased Technical Change and Wages: Evidence from a Longitudinal Data Se," Economics Papers W25., Economics Group, Nuffield College, University of Oxford.
  9. Richard B. Freeman & Lawrence F. Katz, 1995. "Differences and Changes in Wage Structures," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number free95-1, Ekim.
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