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The Internet and Local Wages: A Puzzle

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  • Chris Forman
  • Avi Goldfarb
  • Shane Greenstein

Abstract

How did the diffusion of the internet affect regional wage inequality? We examine the relationship between business investment in advanced internet technology and local variation in US wage growth between 1995 and 2000. We identify a puzzle. The internet is widespread, but the economic payoffs are not. Advanced internet technology is only associated with substantial wage growth in the 6 percent of counties that were already highly wealthy, educated, and populated and had IT-intensive industry. Advanced internet and wage growth appear unrelated elsewhere. Overall, advanced internet explains over half the difference in wage growth between already well-off counties and all others. (JEL J31, L86, O33, R11, R23)

Suggested Citation

  • Chris Forman & Avi Goldfarb & Shane Greenstein, 2012. "The Internet and Local Wages: A Puzzle," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 102(1), pages 556-575, February.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:aecrev:v:102:y:2012:i:1:p:556-75
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Timothy J. Bartik, 1991. "Who Benefits from State and Local Economic Development Policies?," Books from Upjohn Press, W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research, number wbsle.
    2. Chris Forman & Avi Goldfarb & Shane Greenstein, 2002. "Digital Dispersion: An Industrial and Geographic Census of Commerical Internet Use," NBER Working Papers 9287, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Chris Forman & Avi Goldfarb & Shane Greenstein, 2008. "Understanding the Inputs into Innovation: Do Cities Substitute for Internal Firm Resources?," Journal of Economics & Management Strategy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 17(2), pages 295-316, June.
    4. Lerner, Josh & Schoar, Antoinette, 2004. "Transaction Structures in the Developing World: Evidence from Private Equity," Working papers 4468-04, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Sloan School of Management.
    5. Erik Brynjolfsson & Lorin M. Hitt, 2003. "Computing Productivity: Firm-Level Evidence," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 85(4), pages 793-808, November.
    6. David H. Autor & Frank Levy & Richard J. Murnane, 2003. "The Skill Content of Recent Technological Change: An Empirical Exploration," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 118(4), pages 1279-1333.
    7. Matthew J. Higgins & Daniel Levy & Andrew T. Young, 2006. "Growth and Convergence across the United States: Evidence from County-Level Data," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 88(4), pages 671-681, November.
    8. Kevin J. Stiroh, 2002. "Information Technology and the U.S. Productivity Revival: What Do the Industry Data Say?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, pages 1559-1576.
    9. Katz, Lawrence F. & Autor, David H., 1999. "Changes in the wage structure and earnings inequality," Handbook of Labor Economics,in: O. Ashenfelter & D. Card (ed.), Handbook of Labor Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 26, pages 1463-1555 Elsevier.
    10. Dale W. Jorgenson & Mun S. Ho & Kevin J. Stiroh, 2005. "Productivity, Volume 3: Information Technology and the American Growth Resurgence," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 3, number 0262101114, January.
    11. Forman, Chris & Goldfarb, Avi & Greenstein, Shane, 2005. "How did location affect adoption of the commercial Internet? Global village vs. urban leadership," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 58(3), pages 389-420, November.
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • J31 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Wage Level and Structure; Wage Differentials
    • L86 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Services - - - Information and Internet Services; Computer Software
    • O33 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Technological Change: Choices and Consequences; Diffusion Processes
    • R11 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - General Regional Economics - - - Regional Economic Activity: Growth, Development, Environmental Issues, and Changes
    • R23 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - Household Analysis - - - Regional Migration; Regional Labor Markets; Population

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