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Capital-Skill Complementarity and Rigid Relative Wages: Inference from the Business Cycle


  • Skaksen Jan R

    () (Copenhagen Business School and Center for Economic and Business Research (CEBR))

  • Sorensen Anders

    () (Copenhagen Business School and Center for Economic and Business Research (CEBR))


The relative demand for skills has increased considerably in many OECD countries during recent decades. This development is potentially explained by capital-skill complementarity and high growth rates of capital equipment. When production functions are characterized by capital-skill complementarity, relative wages and employment of skilled labor are countercyclical because capital equipment is a quasi-fixed factor in the short run. The exact behavior of the two variables depends on relative wage flexibility. Relative wages are rigid in Denmark, implying that the employment share of skills should be countercyclical. The labor market is competitive in the United States and therefore relative wages of skilled labor are expected to be countercyclical. We find that the business cycle development of the two economies is consistent with capital-skill complementarity.

Suggested Citation

  • Skaksen Jan R & Sorensen Anders, 2005. "Capital-Skill Complementarity and Rigid Relative Wages: Inference from the Business Cycle," The B.E. Journal of Macroeconomics, De Gruyter, vol. 5(1), pages 1-26, June.
  • Handle: RePEc:bpj:bejmac:v:contributions.5:y:2005:i:1:n:7

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Benhabib Jess & Perli Roberto, 1994. "Uniqueness and Indeterminacy: On the Dynamics of Endogenous Growth," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 63(1), pages 113-142, June.
    2. Casey B. Mulligan & Xavier Sala-i-Martin, 1993. "Transitional Dynamics in Two-Sector Models of Endogenous Growth," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 108(3), pages 739-773.
    3. Xie Danyang, 1994. "Divergence in Economic Performance: Transitional Dynamics with Multiple Equilibria," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 63(1), pages 97-112, June.
    4. Caballe, Jordi & Santos, Manuel S, 1993. "On Endogenous Growth with Physical and Human Capital," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 101(6), pages 1042-1067, December.
    5. Lucas, Robert Jr., 1988. "On the mechanics of economic development," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 22(1), pages 3-42, July.
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    Cited by:

    1. Michael Ben-Gad, 2008. "Capital-Skill Complementarity and the Immigration Surplus," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 11(2), pages 335-365, April.

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