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General Purpose Technology and Wage Inequality

  • Aghion, Philippe
  • Howitt, Peter
  • Violante, Giovanni L

The recent changes in the U.S. wage structure are often linked to the new wave of capital-embodied information technologies. The existing literature has emphasized either the accelerated pace or the skill-bias of embodied technical progress as the driving force behind the rise in wage inequality. A key, neglected, aspect is the "general purpose" nature of the new information technologies. This paper formalizes the idea of generality of technology in two ways, one related to human capital (skill transferability) and one to physical capital (vintage compatibility) and studies the impact of an increase in these two dimensions of technological generality on equilibrium wage inequality. Copyright 2002 by Kluwer Academic Publishers

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

Volume (Year): 7 (2002)
Issue (Month): 4 (December)
Pages: 315-45

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Handle: RePEc:kap:jecgro:v:7:y:2002:i:4:p:315-45
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  1. Flug, K. & Hercowitz, Z., 1998. "Equipment Investment and the Relative Demand for Skilled Labour: International Evidence," Papers 05-98, Tel Aviv.
  2. John DiNardo & Nicole M. Fortin & Thomas Lemieux, 1995. "Labor Market Institutions and the Distribution of Wages, 1973-1992: A Semiparametric Approach," NBER Working Papers 5093, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Helpman, Elhanan & Rangel, Antonio, 1999. " Adjusting to a New Technology: Experience and Training," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 4(4), pages 359-83, December.
  4. 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.
  5. Trajtenberg, M. & Bresnahan, T.F., 1992. "General Purpose Technologies: "Engines of Growth"," Papers 16-92, Tel Aviv.
  6. Galor, Oded & Tsiddon, Daniel, 1997. "Technological Progress, Mobility, and Economic Growth," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 87(3), pages 363-82, June.
  7. Eve Caroli & John Van Reenen, 2001. "Skill-Biased Organizational Change? Evidence From A Panel Of British And French Establishments," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 116(4), pages 1449-1492, November.
  8. Wood Júnior, Thomaz, 1995. "Workers," RAE - Revista de Administração de Empresas, FGV-EAESP Escola de Administração de Empresas de São Paulo (Brazil), vol. 35(2), January.
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