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Technical Change and the Demand for Skills by U.S. Industries

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  • Howell, David R
  • Wolff, Edward N

Abstract

Previous studies have explained the demand for skills, usually measured by schooling attainment, by either factor price substitution, capital-skill complementarity, or technology-skill complementarity. The authors explore this demand with direct job-based measures of cognitive (CS), interactive (IS), and motor (MS) skills in a single model that includes all three sets of possible determinants. The results raise doubts about the adequacy of schooling as a measure of skill and TFP growth as an index of technical change. The authors find little support for capital-skill complementarity; capital-intensity and its growth are significantly inversely related to CS and MS levels and growth. Technical change is unambiguously linked to increasing CS, rising professional/technical shares, and declining operative/laborer shares. The effects on MS and IS are mixed, but young capital increases craft shares, and computer-intensity decreases supervisory and clerical/service shares. Copyright 1992 by Oxford University Press.

Suggested Citation

  • Howell, David R & Wolff, Edward N, 1992. "Technical Change and the Demand for Skills by U.S. Industries," Cambridge Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 16(2), pages 127-146, June.
  • Handle: RePEc:oup:cambje:v:16:y:1992:i:2:p:127-46
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    Cited by:

    1. Hannes Leo, 2001. "European Skills Shortage in ICT and Policy Responses," WIFO Working Papers 163, WIFO.
    2. Davide Consoli & Dioni Elche, 2013. "The evolving knowledge base of professional service sectors," Journal of Evolutionary Economics, Springer, vol. 23(2), pages 477-501, April.
    3. Vona, Francesco & Consoli, Davide, 2009. "Innovation, human capital and earning distribution: towards a dynamic life-cycle approach," MPRA Paper 13032, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    4. Consoli, Davide & Rentocchini, Francesco, 2015. "A taxonomy of multi-industry labour force skills," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 44(5), pages 1116-1132.
    5. Pascal Petit, 2010. "Innovation and Services: On Biases and Beyond," Chapters,in: The Handbook of Innovation and Services, chapter 17 Edward Elgar Publishing.
    6. Zuniga, Pluvia & Crespi, Gustavo, 2013. "Innovation strategies and employment in Latin American firms," Structural Change and Economic Dynamics, Elsevier, vol. 24(C), pages 1-17.
    7. David H. Autor, 2007. "Structural demand shifts and potential labor supply responses in the new century," Monograph, Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, number 52.
    8. Wang, Q. & von Tunzelmann, N., 2000. "Complexity and the functions of the firm: breadth and depth," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 29(7-8), pages 805-818, August.
    9. Consoli, Davide & Elche-Hortelano, Dioni, 2010. "Variety in the knowledge base of Knowledge Intensive Business Services," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 39(10), pages 1303-1310, December.
    10. Pianta, Mario, 2017. "Technology and employment. Twelve stylized facts for the digital age," MPRA Paper 84391, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    11. Nathalie Greenan, 1996. "Innovation technologique, changements organisationnels et évolution des compétences," Économie et Statistique, Programme National Persée, vol. 298(1), pages 15-33.
    12. Wolff, Edward N., 2000. "Human capital investment and economic growth: exploring the cross-country evidence," Structural Change and Economic Dynamics, Elsevier, vol. 11(4), pages 433-472, December.
    13. Stuart Glosser & Lonnie Golden, 2005. "Is labour becoming more or less flexible? Changing dynamic behaviour and asymmetries of labour input in US manufacturing," Cambridge Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 29(4), pages 535-557, July.
    14. Hollanders, Hugo & Weel, Bas ter, 1998. "Skill-Biased Technological Change in an Endogenous Growth Model," Research Memorandum 016, Maastricht University, Maastricht Economic Research Institute on Innovation and Technology (MERIT).

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