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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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  • Baltagi, Badi H. & Rich, Daniel P., 2005. "Skill-biased technical change in US manufacturing: a general index approach," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 126(2), pages 549-570, June.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:econom:v:126:y:2005:i:2:p:549-570

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Einiö, Elias, 2016. "The loss of production work: evidence from quasiexperimental identification of labour demand functions," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 69019, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    2. Frank Lichtenberg, 2011. "The quality of medical care, behavioral risk factors, and longevity growth," International Journal of Health Economics and Management, Springer, vol. 11(1), pages 1-34, March.
    3. Frank Cörvers & Jaanika Meriküll, 2007. "Occupational structures across 25 EU countries: the importance of industry structure and technology in old and new EU countries," Economic Change and Restructuring, Springer, vol. 40(4), pages 327-359, December.
    4. Elias Einiö, 2016. "The Loss of Production Work: Evidence from Quasi-Experimental Identification of Labour Demand Functions," CEP Discussion Papers dp1451, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
    5. Ariel Casarin, 2014. "Productivity throughout regulatory cycles in gas utilities," Journal of Regulatory Economics, Springer, vol. 45(2), pages 115-137, April.
    6. Sauer, Johannes & Park, Timothy A. & Graversen, Jesper T., 2007. "Organic Farming In Denmark-Productivity, Technical Change And Market Exit," 47th Annual Conference, Weihenstephan, Germany, September 26-28, 2007 7618, German Association of Agricultural Economists (GEWISOLA).
    7. Badi Baltagi & Alain Pirotte, 2011. "Seemingly unrelated regressions with spatial error components," Empirical Economics, Springer, vol. 40(1), pages 5-49, February.
    8. Ljubica Nedelkoska & Simon Wiederhold, 2010. "Technology, outsourcing, and the demand for heterogeneous labor: Exploring the industry dimension," Jena Economic Research Papers 2010-052, Friedrich-Schiller-University Jena.
    9. Shabbar Jaffry & Yaseen Ghulam & Joe Cox, 2006. "Impact of Regulatory Reforms on Labour Efficiency in the Indian and Pakistani Commercial Banks," The Pakistan Development Review, Pakistan Institute of Development Economics, vol. 45(4), pages 1085-1102.
    10. Sauer, Johannes & Graversen, Jesper T. & Park, Timothy A., 2006. "Breathtaking or Stagnating? - Productivity, Technical Change and Structural Dynamics in Danish Organic Farming," 2006 Annual meeting, July 23-26, Long Beach, CA 21481, American Agricultural Economics Association (New Name 2008: Agricultural and Applied Economics Association).
    11. Einiö, Elias, 2015. "The Loss of Production Work: Identification of Demand Shifts Based on Local Soviet Trade Shocks," Working Papers 61, VATT Institute for Economic Research.
    12. Aykut Lenger, 2016. "The inter-industry employment effects of technological change," Journal of Productivity Analysis, Springer, vol. 46(2), pages 235-248, December.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • J23 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Labor Demand
    • C33 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Multiple or Simultaneous Equation Models; Multiple Variables - - - Models with Panel Data; Spatio-temporal Models
    • O33 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Technological Change: Choices and Consequences; Diffusion Processes


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