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Precautionary Demand for Education, Inequality, and Technological Progress

  • Gould, Eric D
  • Moav, Omer
  • Weinberg, Bruce A

This paper offers an explanation for the evolution of wage inequality within and between industries and education groups over the past several decades. The model is based on the disproportionate depreciation of technology-specific skills versus general skills due to technological progress, which occurs randomly across sectors. Consistent with empirical evidence, the model predicts that increasing randomness is the primary source of inequality growth within uneducated workers, whereas inequality growth within educated workers is determined more by changes in the composition and return to ability. Increasing randomness generates a "precautionary" demand for education, which we show empirically to be significant. Copyright 2001 by Kluwer Academic Publishers

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Article provided by Springer in its journal Journal of Economic Growth.

Volume (Year): 6 (2001)
Issue (Month): 4 (December)
Pages: 285-315

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Handle: RePEc:kap:jecgro:v:6:y:2001:i:4:p:285-315
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  1. Oded Galor & Omer Moav, 2000. "Ability-Biased Technological Transition, Wage Inequality, And Economic Growth," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 115(2), pages 469-497, May.
  2. Elhanan Helpman & Antonio Rangel, 1998. "Adjusting to a New Technology: Experience and Training," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 1833, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
  3. Hassler, John & Rodríguez Mora, José Vicente & Storesletten, Kjetil & Zilibotti, Fabrizio, 1999. "Equilibrium Unemployment Insurance," CEPR Discussion Papers 2126, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  4. Rubinstein, Yona & Tsiddon, Daniel, 1999. "Coping with Technological Progress: The Role of Ability in Making Inequality so Persistent," CEPR Discussion Papers 2153, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  5. Juhn, Chinhui & Murphy, Kevin M & Pierce, Brooks, 1993. "Wage Inequality and the Rise in Returns to Skill," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 101(3), pages 410-42, June.
  6. Juhn, Chinhui, 1992. "Decline of Male Labor Market Participation: The Role of Declining Market Opportunities," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 107(1), pages 79-121, February.
  7. Kane, Thomas J, 1994. "College Entry by Blacks since 1970: The Role of College Costs, Family Background, and the Returns to Education," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 102(5), pages 878-911, October.
  8. Lawrence F. Katz & Kevin M. Murphy, 1991. "Changes in Relative Wages, 1963-1987: Supply and Demand Factors," NBER Working Papers 3927, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Bresnahan, Timothy F. & Trajtenberg, M., 1995. "General purpose technologies 'Engines of growth'?," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 65(1), pages 83-108, January.
  10. Schultz, Theodore W, 1975. "The Value of the Ability to Deal with Disequilibria," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 13(3), pages 827-46, September.
  11. Maoz, Yishay D & Moav, Omer, 1999. "Intergenerational Mobility and the Process of Development," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 109(458), pages 677-97, October.
  12. Lawrence F. Katz & Gary W. Loveman & David G. Blanchflower, 1995. "A Comparison of Changes in the Structure of Wages in Four OECD Countries," NBER Chapters, in: Differences and Changes in Wage Structures, pages 25-66 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  15. Welch, Finis, 1997. "Wages and Participation," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 15(1), pages S77-103, January.
  16. Chinhui Juhn & Kevin M. Murphy & Robert H. Topel, 1991. "Why Has the Natural Rate of Unemployment Increased over Time?," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 22(2), pages 75-142.
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