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Computers, Fax Machines and Wages in Canada: What Really Matters?

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  • Drolet, Marie
  • Morissette, Rene
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    Abstract

    Controlling for observable worker attributes, we find that computer use is associated with a wage premium of at most 14%. Following Dinardo and Pischke (1997), we examine the wage premium associated with other tools used on the job. While these authors find a significant wage premium for the use of pencils or for sitting down while working, we find a substantial and robust wage premium for the use of a fax machine. Using a variety of reasonable specifications of wage equations including both a computer use indicator and a fax use indicator, we consistently find a stronger effect for fax machines than for computers. Along with Dinardo and Pischke (1997), we argue that workers who use computers earn more than other employees not because of their computing skills per se, but rather because they have more other unobserved skills - innate or learned through school - than other employees.

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    File URL: http://www5.statcan.gc.ca/olc-cel/olc.action?ObjId=11F0019M1998126&ObjType=46&lang=en&limit=0
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    Bibliographic Info

    Paper provided by Statistics Canada, Analytical Studies Branch in its series Analytical Studies Branch Research Paper Series with number 1998126e.

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    Date of creation: 27 Oct 1998
    Date of revision:
    Handle: RePEc:stc:stcp3e:1998126e

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    Web page: http://www.statcan.gc.ca
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    Related research

    Keywords: Globalization and the labour market; Labour; Wages; salaries and other earnings; Workplace organization; innovation; performance;

    References

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    1. 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.
    2. Richard B. Freeman & Karen Needels, 1993. "Skill Differentials in Canada in an Era of Rising Labor Market Inequality," NBER Chapters, in: Small Differences That Matter: Labor Markets and Income Maintenance in Canada and the United States, pages 45-68 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Ann P. Bartel & Nachum Sicherman, 1997. "Technological Change and Wages: An Inter-Industry Analysis," NBER Working Papers 5941, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Dinardo, J.E. & Pischke, J.S., 1996. "The Returns to Computer Use Revisited: Have Pencils Changed the Wage Structure Too?," Working papers 96-12, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
    5. Steven G. Allen, 1996. "Technology and the Wage Structure," NBER Working Papers 5534, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. Dunne, Timothy & Schmitz, James A, Jr, 1995. "Wages, Employment Structure and Employer Size-Wage Premia: Their Relationship to Advanced-Technology Usage at US Manufacturing Establishments," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 62(245), pages 89-107, February.
    7. Bound, John & Krueger, Alan B, 1991. "The Extent of Measurement Error in Longitudinal Earnings Data: Do Two Wrongs Make a Right?," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 9(1), pages 1-24, January.
    8. 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.
    9. Morissette, Rene, 1995. "Why Has Inequality in Weekly Earnings Increased in Canada?," Analytical Studies Branch Research Paper Series 1995080e, Statistics Canada, Analytical Studies Branch.
    10. Greenman, N. & Mairesse, J., 1996. "Computers and Productivity in France: Some Evidence," Monash Econometrics and Business Statistics Working Papers 15/96, Monash University, Department of Econometrics and Business Statistics.
    11. repec:fth:prinin:377 is not listed on IDEAS
    12. Beach, C.M. & Slotsve, G.A., 1994. "Polarization of Earnings in the Canadian Labour Market: A Non-Microdata Approach," Working Papers 17, John Deutsch Institute for the Study of Economic Policy.
    13. 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.
    14. Entorf, Horst & Kramarz, Francis, 1997. "Does unmeasured ability explain the higher wages of new technology workers?," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 41(8), pages 1489-1509, August.
    15. Levy, Frank & Murnane, Richard J, 1992. "U.S. Earnings Levels and Earnings Inequality: A Review of Recent Trends and Proposed Explanations," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 30(3), pages 1333-81, September.
    16. Johnson, Joanne & Baldwin, John R. & Gray, Tara, 1996. "Technology-induced Wage Premia in Canadian Manufacturing Plants During the 1980s," Analytical Studies Branch Research Paper Series 1996092e, Statistics Canada, Analytical Studies Branch.
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    Cited by:
    1. Sakellariou, Chris N. & Patrinos, Harry A., 2003. "Technology, computers, and wages : evidence from a developing economy," Policy Research Working Paper Series 3008, The World Bank.
    2. Oosterbeek, Hessel & Ponce, Juan, 2011. "The impact of computer use on earnings in a developing country: Evidence from Ecuador," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 18(4), pages 434-440, August.

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