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The World Technology Frontier

Listed author(s):
  • Francesco Caselli
  • Wilbur John Coleman II

We study cross-country differences in the aggregate production function when skilled and unskilled labor are imperfect substitutes. We find that there is a skill bias in cross-country technology differences. Higher-income countries use skilled labor more efficiently than lower-income countries, while they use unskilled labor relatively and, possibly, absolutely less efficiently. We also propose a simple explanation for our findings: rich countries, which are skilled-labor abundant, choose technologies that are best suited to skilled workers; poor countries, which are unskilled-labor abundant, choose technologies more appropriate to unskilled workers. We discuss alternative explanations, such as capital-skill complementarity and differences in schooling quality. (JEL E13, E23, J31, O14)

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File URL: http://www.aeaweb.org/articles.php?doi=10.1257/aer.96.3.499
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File URL: http://www.aeaweb.org/aer/data/june06_data_20040383.zip
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Article provided by American Economic Association in its journal American Economic Review.

Volume (Year): 96 (2006)
Issue (Month): 3 (June)
Pages: 499-522

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Handle: RePEc:aea:aecrev:v:96:y:2006:i:3:p:499-522
Note: DOI: 10.1257/aer.96.3.499
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  1. Trefler, Daniel, 1993. "International Factor Price Differences: Leontief Was Right!," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 101(6), pages 961-987, December.
  2. Caselli, Francesco & Wilson, Daniel J., 2004. "Importing technology," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 51(1), pages 1-32, January.
  3. Philippe Aghion & Peter Howitt & David Mayer-Foulkes, 2005. "The Effect of Financial Development on Convergence: Theory and Evidence," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 120(1), pages 173-222.
  4. Per Krusell & Lee E. Ohanian & JosÈ-Victor RÌos-Rull & Giovanni L. Violante, 2000. "Capital-Skill Complementarity and Inequality: A Macroeconomic Analysis," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 68(5), pages 1029-1054, September.
  5. Diwan, Ishac & Rodrik, Dani, 1991. "Patents, appropriate technology, and North-South trade," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 30(1-2), pages 27-47, February.
  6. King, Robert G. & Levine, Ross, 1994. "Capital fundamentalism, economic development, and economic growth," Carnegie-Rochester Conference Series on Public Policy, Elsevier, vol. 40(1), pages 259-292, June.
  7. Caselli, Francesco, 2005. "Accounting for Cross-Country Income Differences," Handbook of Economic Growth,in: Philippe Aghion & Steven Durlauf (ed.), Handbook of Economic Growth, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 9, pages 679-741 Elsevier.
  8. Francesco Caselli & Nicola Gennaioli, 2013. "Dynastic Management," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 51(1), pages 971-996, 01.
  9. Allen, Steven G, 2001. "Technology and the Wage Structure," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 19(2), pages 440-483, April.
  10. Daron Acemoglu & Fabrizio Zilibotti, 2001. "Productivity Differences," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 116(2), pages 563-606.
  11. Eaton, Jonathan & Kortum, Samuel, 2001. "Trade in capital goods," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 45(7), pages 1195-1235.
  12. Charles I. Jones, 2005. "The Shape of Production Functions and the Direction of Technical Change," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 120(2), pages 517-549.
  13. Francesco Caselli & Wilbur John Coleman, 2001. "Cross-Country Technology Diffusion: The Case of Computers," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(2), pages 328-335, May.
  14. Mark Doms & Timothy Dunne & Kenneth R. Troske, 1997. "Workers, Wages, and Technology," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 112(1), pages 253-290.
  15. Daron Acemoglu, 2002. "Directed Technical Change," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 69(4), pages 781-809.
  16. Francesco Caselli, 1999. "Technological Revolutions," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(1), pages 78-102, March.
  17. Caselli, Francesco & Esquivel, Gerardo & Lefort, Fernando, 1996. "Reopening the Convergence Debate: A New Look at Cross-Country Growth Empirics," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 1(3), pages 363-389, September.
  18. Robert E. Hall & Charles I. Jones, 1999. "Why do Some Countries Produce So Much More Output Per Worker than Others?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 114(1), pages 83-116.
  19. Daron Acemoglu, 1998. "Why Do New Technologies Complement Skills? Directed Technical Change and Wage Inequality," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 113(4), pages 1055-1089.
  20. Susanto Basu & David N. Weil, 1998. "Appropriate Technology and Growth," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 113(4), pages 1025-1054.
  21. David H. Autor & Lawrence F. Katz & Alan B. Krueger, 1998. "Computing Inequality: Have Computers Changed the Labor Market?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 113(4), pages 1169-1213.
  22. Duffy, John & Papageorgiou, Chris, 2000. "A Cross-Country Empirical Investigation of the Aggregate Production Function Specification," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 5(1), pages 87-120, March.
  23. Barro, Robert J & Lee, Jong-Wha, 2001. "International Data on Educational Attainment: Updates and Implications," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 53(3), pages 541-563, July.
  24. Barro, Robert J & Sala-i-Martin, Xavier, 1997. "Technological Diffusion, Convergence, and Growth," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 2(1), pages 1-26, March.
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  27. Stephen L. Parente & Edward C. Prescott, 2002. "Barriers to Riches," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262661306, July.
  28. Caselli, Francesco & Coleman II, Wilbur John, 1999. "How Regions Converge," CEPR Discussion Papers 2191, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  29. 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.
  30. Douglas Gollin & Steven Parente & Richard Rogerson, 2003. "Structural Transformation and Cross-Country Income Differences," Levine's Working Paper Archive 506439000000000259, David K. Levine.
  31. N. Gregory Mankiw & David Romer & David N. Weil, 1992. "A Contribution to the Empirics of Economic Growth," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 107(2), pages 407-437.
  32. 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.
  33. Douglas Gollin, 2002. "Getting Income Shares Right," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 110(2), pages 458-474, April.
  34. Diamond, Peter & McFadden, Daniel & Rodriguez, Miguel, 1978. "Measurement of the Elasticity of Factor Substitution and Bias of Technical Change," Histoy of Economic Thought Chapters,in: Fuss, Melvyn & McFadden, Daniel (ed.), Production Economics: A Dual Approach to Theory and Applications, volume 2, chapter 5 McMaster University Archive for the History of Economic Thought.
  35. Nazrul Islam, 1995. "Growth Empirics: A Panel Data Approach," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 110(4), pages 1127-1170.
  36. Francesco Caselli, 2005. "Accounting for cross-country income differences," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 3567, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
  37. Atkinson, Anthony B & Stiglitz, Joseph E, 1969. "A New View of Technological Change," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 79(315), pages 573-578, September.
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