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Adjusting to a New Technology: Experience and Training

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  • Helpman, Elhanan
  • Rangel, Antonio

Abstract

How does the economy react to the arrival of a new major technology? The existing literature on general-purpose technologies (GPTs) has studied the role that mechanisms like secondary innovations, diffusion, and learning by firms play in the adjustment process. By contrast, we focus on a new mechanism: the interplay between technological change and two types of human capital-technology-specific experience and education. We show that technological change that requires more education and training, like computerization, necessarily produces an initial slowdown. On the other hand, technological change that lowers the training requirements, like the move from the artisan shop to the factory, can produce either a bust or a boom. We identify three key properties that determine the outcome: (1) the productivity of inexperienced workers, (2) the speed with which experience raises productivity, and (3) the level of general skills required to operate the new technology. Copyright 1999 by Kluwer Academic Publishers

Suggested Citation

  • Helpman, Elhanan & Rangel, Antonio, 1999. "Adjusting to a New Technology: Experience and Training," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 4(4), pages 359-383, December.
  • Handle: RePEc:kap:jecgro:v:4:y:1999:i:4:p:359-83
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Murphy, Kevin M & Welch, Finis, 1990. "Empirical Age-Earnings Profiles," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 8(2), pages 202-229, April.
    2. Helpman, Elhanan & Trajtenberg, Manuel, 1994. "A Time to Sow and a Time to Reap: Growth Based on General Purpose Technologies," CEPR Discussion Papers 1080, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    3. David Autor & Lawrence Katz & Alan Krueger, 1997. "Computing Inequality: Have Computers Changed the Labor Market?," Working Papers 756, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
    4. Andreas Hornstein & Per Krusell, 1996. "Can Technology Improvements Cause Productivity Slowdowns?," NBER Chapters,in: NBER Macroeconomics Annual 1996, Volume 11, pages 209-276 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. repec:adr:anecst:y:1998:i:49-50 is not listed on IDEAS
    6. repec:adr:anecst:y:1998:i:49-50:p:02 is not listed on IDEAS
    7. Philippe Aghion & Peter Howitt, 1999. "On the Macroeconomic Effects of Major Technological Change," Nordic Journal of Political Economy, Nordic Journal of Political Economy, vol. 25, pages 15-32.
    8. Elhanan Helpman & Manuel Trajtenberg, 1996. "Diffusion of General Purpose Technologies," NBER Working Papers 5773, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    9. Bartel, Ann P & Lichtenberg, Frank R, 1987. "The Comparative Advantage of Educated Workers in Implementing New Technology," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 69(1), pages 1-11, February.
    10. 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.
    11. repec:fth:prinin:377 is not listed on IDEAS
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • O32 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Management of Technological Innovation and R&D
    • O33 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Technological Change: Choices and Consequences; Diffusion Processes
    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity

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