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Skill-Biased Technical Change: Theoretical Concepts, Empirical Problems and a Survey of the Evidence

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  • Sanders,Mark
  • Weel,Bas,ter

    (MERIT)

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    Abstract

    The structure of wages and employment has shifted against the low-skilled in many OECD countries over the last decade. Many authors have attributed this shift to the impact of new technologies, and or technical change in general. This paper investigates and structures the growing body of literature on skill-biased technical change (SBTC) by first presenting a model in which SBTC is formalised and decomposed into factor and sector biases of technical change. We show that as we go down to the job level the scope for pure within unit-skill bias decreases and between-unit effects explain the within-unit effects detected at higher aggregation levels. Second, we address some potential sources of skill bias, which are learning, R&D, human capital formation, organisational change and the introduction of new general purpose technologies. Finally we present some conceptual and practical problems we encounter when studying SBTC empirically. We conclude with a survey of selected empirical literature on the subject and discuss the results in light of the empirical and theoretical problems pointed out above.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Paper provided by Maastricht University, Maastricht Economic Research Institute on Innovation and Technology (MERIT) in its series Research Memorandum with number 012.

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    Date of creation: 2000
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    Handle: RePEc:unm:umamer:2000012

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    Keywords: labour economics ;

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    Cited by:
    1. Audretsch, David B & Sanders, Mark, 2007. "Globalization and the Rise of the Entrepreneurial Economy," CEPR Discussion Papers 6247, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    2. Audretsch, David B. & Sanders, Mark, 2009. "Technological Innovation, Entrepreneurship and Development," MERIT Working Papers 052, United Nations University - Maastricht Economic and Social Research Institute on Innovation and Technology (MERIT).
    3. J nos Kollo, 2013. "Patterns of Integration: Low Educated People and their Jobs in Norway, Italy and Hungary," Budapest Working Papers on the Labour Market 1315, Institute of Economics, Centre for Economic and Regional Studies, Hungarian Academy of Sciences.
    4. Vinod Mishra & Russell Smyth, 2012. "Technological Change and Wages in China: Evidence From Matched Employer-Employee Data," Development Research Unit Working Paper Series 28-12, Monash University, Department of Economics.
    5. Piva, Mariacristina, 2004. "The impact of technology transfer on employment and income distribution in developing countries : a survey of theoretical models and empirical studies," ILO Working Papers 366690, International Labour Organization.
    6. Kollo, Janos, 2013. "Patterns of Integration: Low Educated People and their Jobs in Norway, Italy and Hungary," IZA Discussion Papers 7632, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    7. M. Gulenay Ongan Baskaya & Erkan Erdil, 2003. "Technological Change and ICTs in OECD Countries," STPS Working Papers 0301, STPS - Science and Technology Policy Studies Center, Middle East Technical University, revised Jan 2003.
    8. Nico Voigtlaender, 2009. "Many Sectors Meet More Skills: Intersectoral Linkages and the Skill Bias of Technology," 2009 Meeting Papers 1136, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    9. Spyros Arvanitis & Euripidis N. Loukis, 2009. "Employee Education, Information and Communication Technology, Workplace Organization and Trade: A Comparative Analysis of Greek and Swiss Enterprises," KOF Working papers 09-234, KOF Swiss Economic Institute, ETH Zurich.

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