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Skill-biased technical change in US manufacturing: a general index approach

  • Baltagi, Badi H.
  • Rich, Daniel P.

This article applies recent advances in productivity and efficiency measurement to the evaluation of skillbiased technical change. Using the general index approach we are able to establish an explicit and unconstrained time path for nonneutral technical change between production and nonproduction labor in U.S. manufacturing industries over the 1959-1996 period. Our findings confirm the prevailing interpretation in the labor economics literature that substantial reductions in the relative share of production labor are attributable to a sustained period of nonneutral technical change. However, we find that skill-biased technical change effects are most evident prior to 1983. This predates the diffusion of personal computer technologies in the workplace and the dramatic wage structure changes associated with the 1980’s. In contrast to prevailing alternatives, the general index approach also permits us to explain observed shifts in relative labor demand as a combination of price-induced substitution, nonhomothetic output effects and skill-biased technical change responses to a range of proposed elements.

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Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Journal of Econometrics.

Volume (Year): 126 (2005)
Issue (Month): 2 (June)
Pages: 549-570

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Handle: RePEc:eee:econom:v:126:y:2005:i:2:p:549-570
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/jeconom

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  1. Berman, E. & Bound, J. & Machin, S., 1997. "Implications of Skill-Biased Technological Change: International Evidence," Papers 25, Centre for Economic Performance & Institute of Economics.
  2. Nicole M. Fortin & Thomas Lemieux, 1997. "Institutional Changes and Rising Wage Inequality: Is There a Linkage?," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 11(2), pages 75-96, Spring.
  3. Daron Acemoglu, 2000. "Technical Change, Inequality, and the Labor Market," NBER Working Papers 7800, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Julian R. Betts, 1997. "The Skill Bias Of Technological Change In Canadian Manufacturing Industries," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 79(1), pages 146-150, February.
  5. Baltagi, Badi H & Griffin, James M, 1988. "A General Index of Technical Change," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 96(1), pages 20-41, February.
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  8. George E. Johnson, 1997. "Changes in Earnings Inequality: The Role of Demand Shifts," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 11(2), pages 41-54, Spring.
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  13. Kumbhakar, Subal C., 2002. "Decomposition of technical change into input-specific components: a factor augmenting approach," Japan and the World Economy, Elsevier, vol. 14(3), pages 243-264, August.
  14. Dominique Goux & Eric Maurin, 2000. "The Decline In Demand For Unskilled Labor: An Empirical Analysis Method And Its Application To France," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 82(4), pages 596-607, November.
  15. Berndt, Ernst R. & Morrison, Catherine J., 1992. "High-tech capital formation and economic performance in U.S. manufacturing industries : an exploratory analysis," Working papers 3419-92., Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Sloan School of Management.
  16. Murphy, Kevin M & Welch, Finis, 1992. "The Structure of Wages," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 107(1), pages 285-326, February.
  17. Paul, Catherine J Morrison & Siegel, Donald S, 2001. " The Impacts of Technology, Trade and Outsourcing on Employment and Labor Composition," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 103(2), pages 241-64, June.
  18. Eli Berman & John Bound & Zvi Griliches, 1993. "Changes in the Demand for Skilled Labor within U.S. Manufacturing Industries: Evidence from the Annual Survey of Manufacturing," NBER Working Papers 4255, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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