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Coping with Technological Change: The Role of Ability in Making Inequality so Persistent

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  • Yona Rubinstein
  • Daniel Tsiddon

Abstract

This study provides an explanation to the evolution of wage inequality over the last 30 years and supports this explanation with evidence. A faster rate of technological progress introduces new unknown elements at the workplace. The need to cope with the unknown accentuates the role of ability and thus increases wage inequality within and between education groups. Inasmuch as education is an irreversible investment project the rise in within group inequality BOOSTS UP the rise of between group inequality. Guided by this theory we turn to the PSID for evidence. Using parents' education to approximate child's ability we show the following set of results: (a) Controlling for education of the child, parents' education contributed much more in the 1980s to his wage growth than in the 1970s. (b) The correlation between the parents' and the child's education increases from the 1970s to the 1980s. (c) The return to college education for an individual with no ability rents did not change--it remains steady at the 23 percent. (d) Facts (a)--(c) CANNOT be attributed to the impact of parent's income. It is parents' education and not parents' income that is more relevant for son's economic outcomes in the 1980s.

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  • Yona Rubinstein & Daniel Tsiddon, 2004. "Coping with Technological Change: The Role of Ability in Making Inequality so Persistent," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 9(3), pages 305-346, September.
  • Handle: RePEc:kap:jecgro:v:9:y:2004:i:3:p:305-346
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    Cited by:

    1. Paolo Figini & Holger Go¨rg, 2011. "Does Foreign Direct Investment Affect Wage Inequality? An Empirical Investigation," The World Economy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 34(9), pages 1455-1475, September.
    2. Azarnert, Leonid V., 2010. "Immigration, fertility, and human capital: A model of economic decline of the West," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 26(4), pages 431-440, December.
    3. Hendricks, Lutz, 2007. "The intergenerational persistence of lifetime earnings," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 51(1), pages 125-144, January.
    4. Bernhard Eckwert & Itzhak Zilcha, 2007. "The Effect of Better Information on Income Inequality," Economic Theory, Springer;Society for the Advancement of Economic Theory (SAET), vol. 32(2), pages 287-307, August.
    5. Steger, Thomas M., 2007. "Flexibility, Sectoral Hysteresis, And Downturns," Macroeconomic Dynamics, Cambridge University Press, vol. 11(01), pages 128-148, February.
    6. Maurizio Iacopetta, 2008. "Technological progress and inequality: an ambiguous relationship," Journal of Evolutionary Economics, Springer, vol. 18(3), pages 455-475, August.
    7. Gonzalo Castex & Evgenia Kogan Dechter, 2014. "The Changing Roles of Education and Ability in Wage Determination," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 32(4), pages 685-710.

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