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The World Technology Frontier

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  • Francesco Caselli
  • Wilbur John Coleman II

Abstract

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)

Suggested Citation

  • Francesco Caselli & Wilbur John Coleman II, 2006. "The World Technology Frontier," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 96(3), pages 499-522, June.
  • 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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    References listed on IDEAS

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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • E1 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - General Aggregative Models
    • O3 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights

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