IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/a/taf/ecsysr/v18y2006i3p221-255.html
   My bibliography  Save this article

The growth of information workers in the US economy, 1950-2000: the role of technological change, computerization, and structural change

Author

Listed:
  • Edward Wolff

Abstract

Using data from the decennial US Censuses of 1950, 1960, 1970, 1980, 1990, and 2000, I construct matrices of employment by 267 occupations and 64 industries and then aggregate the occupations into four categories: (i) knowledge producers; (ii) data processors; (iii) service workers; and (iv) goods-processing workers. I find that information workers (the sum of the first two categories) increased from 37% of the workforce in 1950 to 59% in 2000. Then, using an input-output decomposition analysis, I find that the growth in information workers was driven not by a shift in tastes toward information-intensive goods and services (as measured by the composition of final demand) but rather by a roughly equal combination of the substitution of information workers for goods and service workers within the structure of production of industries and the unbalanced growth effect (from differential rates of industry productivity growth). Finally, on the basis of regression analysis, I find that R&D expenditures and computer investment are positively associated with the growth in knowledge workers but negatively associated with the growth of data workers.

Suggested Citation

  • Edward Wolff, 2006. "The growth of information workers in the US economy, 1950-2000: the role of technological change, computerization, and structural change," Economic Systems Research, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 18(3), pages 221-255.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:ecsysr:v:18:y:2006:i:3:p:221-255
    DOI: 10.1080/09535310600844193
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/09535310600844193
    Download Restriction: Access to full text is restricted to subscribers.

    File URL: https://libkey.io/10.1080/09535310600844193?utm_source=ideas
    LibKey link: if access is restricted and if your library uses this service, LibKey will redirect you to where you can use your library subscription to access this item
    ---><---

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to search for a different version of it.

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Bresnahan, Timothy F. & Trajtenberg, M., 1995. "General purpose technologies 'Engines of growth'?," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 65(1), pages 83-108, January.
    2. Allen, Steven G, 2001. "Technology and the Wage Structure," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 19(2), pages 440-483, April.
    3. Alan B. Krueger, 1993. "How Computers Have Changed the Wage Structure: Evidence from Microdata, 1984–1989," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 108(1), pages 33-60.
    4. Eli Berman & John Bound & Zvi Griliches, 1994. "Changes in the Demand for Skilled Labor within U. S. Manufacturing: Evidence from the Annual Survey of Manufactures," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 109(2), pages 367-397.
    5. White, Halbert, 1980. "A Heteroskedasticity-Consistent Covariance Matrix Estimator and a Direct Test for Heteroskedasticity," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 48(4), pages 817-838, May.
    6. Eli Bekman & John Bound & Stephen Machin, 1998. "Implications of Skill-Biased Technological Change: International Evidence," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 113(4), pages 1245-1279.
    7. Leontief, Wassily & Duchin, Faye, 1986. "The Future Impact of Automation on Workers," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780195036237.
    8. Stephen Machin & John Van Reenen, 1998. "Technology and Changes in Skill Structure: Evidence from Seven OECD Countries," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 113(4), pages 1215-1244.
    9. David H. Autor & Frank Levy & Richard J. Murnane, 2003. "The skill content of recent technological change: an empirical exploration," Proceedings, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, issue Nov.
    10. Timothy F. Bresnahan & Erik Brynjolfsson & Lorin M. Hitt, 2002. "Information Technology, Workplace Organization, and the Demand for Skilled Labor: Firm-Level Evidence," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 117(1), pages 339-376.
    11. J. David Richardson, 1995. "Income Inequality and Trade: How to Think, What to Conclude," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 9(3), pages 33-55, Summer.
    12. Erik Dietzenbacher & Bart Los, 1998. "Structural Decomposition Techniques: Sense and Sensitivity," Economic Systems Research, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 10(4), pages 307-324.
    13. 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.
    14. George J. Borjas & Richard B. Freeman & Lawrence F. Katz, 1992. "On the Labor Market Effects of Immigration and Trade," NBER Chapters, in: Immigration and the Work Force: Economic Consequences for the United States and Source Areas, pages 213-244, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    15. Richard B. Freeman, 1995. "Are Your Wages Set in Beijing?," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 9(3), pages 15-32, Summer.
    16. John E. DiNardo & Jörn-Steffen Pischke, 1997. "The Returns to Computer Use Revisited: Have Pencils Changed the Wage Structure Too?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 112(1), pages 291-303.
    17. Edward N. Wolff, 2002. "Computerization and Structural Change," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 48(1), pages 59-75, March.
    18. David, P.A., 1989. "Computer And Dynamo: The Modern Productivity Paradox In A Not-Too Distant Mirror," The Warwick Economics Research Paper Series (TWERPS) 339, University of Warwick, Department of Economics.
    19. Paul Krugman & Robert Lawrence, 1993. "Trade, Jobs, and Wages," NBER Working Papers 4478, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    20. Timothy Dunne & Lucia Foster & John Haltiwanger & Kenneth Troske, 2000. "Wage and Productivity Dispersion in U.S. Manufacturing: The Role of Computer Investment," Working Papers 00-01, Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau.
    21. 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.
    22. Wolff, Edward N, 1985. "Industrial Composition, Interindustry Effects, and the U.S. Productivity Slowdown," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 67(2), pages 268-277, May.
    23. Wood, Adrian, 1998. "Globalisation and the Rise in Labour Market Inequalities," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 108(450), pages 1463-1482, September.
    24. Wood, Adrian, 1995. "North-South Trade, Employment and Inequality: Changing Fortunes in a Skill-Driven World," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780198290155.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Citations

    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.
    as


    Cited by:

    1. Thijs ten Raa & Pierre Mohnen, 2009. "Competition and Performance: The Different Roles of Capital and Labor," World Scientific Book Chapters, in: Input–Output Economics: Theory And Applications Featuring Asian Economies, chapter 20, pages 371-388, World Scientific Publishing Co. Pte. Ltd..
    2. André Carrascal Incera, 2017. "Drivers of change in the European youth employment: a comparative structural decomposition analysis," Economic Systems Research, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 29(4), pages 463-485, October.
    3. Mariolis Theodore & Konstantakis Konstantinos N. & Michaelides Panayotis G. & Tsionas Efthymios G., 2019. "A non-linear Keynesian Goodwin-type endogenous model of the cycle: Bayesian evidence for the USA," Studies in Nonlinear Dynamics & Econometrics, De Gruyter, vol. 23(1), pages 1-16, February.
    4. Bashir, Sadaf & Sadowski, B. M., 2014. "General purpose technologies: A survey, a critique and future research directions," 25th European Regional ITS Conference, Brussels 2014 101443, International Telecommunications Society (ITS).
    5. Uday Karmarkar, 2015. "OM Forum—The Service and Information Economy: Research Opportunities," Manufacturing & Service Operations Management, INFORMS, vol. 17(2), pages 136-141, May.
    6. Kagawa, Shigemi & Nansai, Keisuke & Kudoh, Yuki, 2009. "Does product lifetime extension increase our income at the expense of energy consumption?," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 31(2), pages 197-210.

    Most related items

    These are the items that most often cite the same works as this one and are cited by the same works as this one.
    1. Daron Acemoglu, 2002. "Technical Change, Inequality, and the Labor Market," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 40(1), pages 7-72, March.
    2. Borghans, Lex & Weel, Bas ter, 2001. "What happens when agent T gets a computer?," Research Memorandum 017, Maastricht University, Maastricht Economic Research Institute on Innovation and Technology (MERIT).
    3. Lex Borghans & Bas ter Weel, 2011. "Computers, skills and wages," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 43(29), pages 4607-4622.
    4. Bresnahan, Timothy F, 1999. "Computerisation and Wage Dispersion: An Analytical Reinterpretation," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 109(456), pages 390-415, June.
    5. Audretsch, David B & Sanders, Mark, 2007. "Globalization and the Rise of the Entrepreneurial Economy," CEPR Discussion Papers 6247, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    6. 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.
    7. Nico Voigtlaender, 2009. "Many Sectors Meet More Skills: Intersectoral Linkages and the Skill Bias of Technology," 2009 Meeting Papers 1136, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    8. Kölling, Arnd & Schank, Thorsten, 2002. "Skill-biased technological change, international trade and the wage structure," Discussion Papers 14, Friedrich-Alexander University Erlangen-Nuremberg, Chair of Labour and Regional Economics.
    9. Mario Pianta, 2018. "Technology and Employment: Twelve Stylised Facts for the Digital Age," The Indian Journal of Labour Economics, Springer;The Indian Society of Labour Economics (ISLE), vol. 61(2), pages 189-225, June.
    10. Borghans, Lex & ter Weel, Bas, 2007. "The diffusion of computers and the distribution of wages," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 51(3), pages 715-748, April.
    11. Thor Berger & Carl Benedikt Frey, 2016. "Structural Transformation in the OECD: Digitalisation, Deindustrialisation and the Future of Work," OECD Social, Employment and Migration Working Papers 193, OECD Publishing.
    12. Fonseca, Tiago & Lima, Francisco & Pereira, Sonia C., 2018. "Job polarization, technological change and routinization: Evidence for Portugal," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 51(C), pages 317-339.
    13. Sunil Mithas & Jonathan Whitaker, 2007. "Is the World Flat or Spiky? Information Intensity, Skills, and Global Service Disaggregation," Information Systems Research, INFORMS, vol. 18(3), pages 237-259, September.
    14. Lex Borghans & Bas ter Weel, 2011. "Computers, skills and wages," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 43(29), pages 4607-4622.
    15. Anders Akerman & Ingvil Gaarder & Magne Mogstad, 2015. "The Skill Complementarity of Broadband Internet," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 130(4), pages 1781-1824.
    16. T. Gries & R. Grundmann & I. Palnau & M. Redlin, 2017. "Innovations, growth and participation in advanced economies - a review of major concepts and findings," International Economics and Economic Policy, Springer, vol. 14(2), pages 293-351, April.
    17. David H. Autor & Frank Levy & Richard J. Murnane, 2003. "The Skill Content of Recent Technological Change: An Empirical Exploration," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 118(4), pages 1279-1333.
    18. Dupuy, Arnaud & Marey, Philip S., 2008. "Shifts and twists in the relative productivity of skilled labor," Journal of Macroeconomics, Elsevier, vol. 30(2), pages 718-735, June.
    19. Bruno Funchal & Jandir Soares Junior, 2013. "Understanding demand for skylls after technological trade liberalization," Fucape Working Papers 40, Fucape Business School.
    20. Borghans, L. & ter Weel, B.J., 2002. "Do older workers have more trouble using a computer than younger workers?," ROA Research Memorandum 1E, Maastricht University, Research Centre for Education and the Labour Market (ROA).

    Corrections

    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:taf:ecsysr:v:18:y:2006:i:3:p:221-255. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: . General contact details of provider: http://www.tandfonline.com/CESR20 .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a bibliographic reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: Chris Longhurst (email available below). General contact details of provider: http://www.tandfonline.com/CESR20 .

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.