IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this article

Skill-Biased Technological Change and the Business Cycle


  • Almut Balleer

    (IIES Stockholm and Aachen University)

  • Thijs van Rens

    (University of Warwick, Centre for Macroeconomics, IZA, and CEPR)


Over the past two decades, technological progress in the United States has been biased toward skilled labor. What does this imply for business cycles? We construct a quarterly skill premium from the CPS and use it to identify skill-biased technology shocks in a VAR with long-run zero and sign restrictions. Hours fall in response to skill-biased technology shocks, indicating that part of the technology-induced fall in hours is due to a compositional shift in labor demand. Investment-specific technology shocks reduce the skill premium, indicating that capital and skill are not complementary in aggregate production. © 2013 The President and Fellows of Harvard College and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Suggested Citation

  • Almut Balleer & Thijs van Rens, 2013. "Skill-Biased Technological Change and the Business Cycle," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 95(4), pages 1222-1237, October.
  • Handle: RePEc:tpr:restat:v:95:y:2013:i:4:p:1222-1237

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    File Function: link to full text PDF
    Download Restriction: Access to full text is restricted to subscribers.

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

    Other versions of this item:

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Antonio Ciccone & Giovanni Peri, 2006. "Identifying Human-Capital Externalities: Theory with Applications," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 73(2), pages 381-412.
    2. repec:ucp:bknber:9780226304557 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. 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.
    4. Matthew J. Lindquist, 2004. "Capital-Skill Complementarity and Inequality Over the Business Cycle," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 7(3), pages 519-540, July.
    5. Christopher J. Erceg & Luca Guerrieri & Christopher Gust, 2005. "Can Long-Run Restrictions Identify Technology Shocks?," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 3(6), pages 1237-1278, December.
    6. Lawrence J. Christiano & Martin Eichenbaum & Robert Vigfusson, 2003. "What Happens After a Technology Shock?," NBER Working Papers 9819, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    7. Chari, V.V. & Kehoe, Patrick J. & McGrattan, Ellen R., 2008. "Are structural VARs with long-run restrictions useful in developing business cycle theory?," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 55(8), pages 1337-1352, November.
    8. Jaeger, David A, 1997. "Reconciling the Old and New Census Bureau Education Questions: Recommendations for Researchers," Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, American Statistical Association, vol. 15(3), pages 300-309, July.
    9. Greenwood, Jeremy & Hercowitz, Zvi & Krusell, Per, 1997. "Long-Run Implications of Investment-Specific Technological Change," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 87(3), pages 342-362, June.
    10. Robert J. Gordon, 1990. "The Measurement of Durable Goods Prices," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number gord90-1, January.
    11. Fabio Canova & David Lopez-Salido & Claudio Michelacci, 2010. "The effects of technology shocks on hours and output: a robustness analysis," Journal of Applied Econometrics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 25(5), pages 755-773.
    12. Michael Keane & Eswar Prasad, 1993. "Skill Levels and the Cyclical Variability of Employment, Hours, and Wages," IMF Staff Papers, Palgrave Macmillan, vol. 40(4), pages 711-743, December.
    13. 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.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)


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

    Cited by:

    1. Fatih Guvenen & Serdar Ozkan & Jae Song, 2014. "The Nature of Countercyclical Income Risk," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 122(3), pages 621-660.
    2. Mennuni, Alessandro, 2013. "Labor Force Composition and Aggregate Fluctuations," Discussion Paper Series In Economics And Econometrics 1302, Economics Division, School of Social Sciences, University of Southampton.
    3. Hutter, Christian & Weber, Enzo, 2017. "The effects of skill-biased technical change on productivity flattening and hours worked," IAB Discussion Paper 201732, Institut für Arbeitsmarkt- und Berufsforschung (IAB), Nürnberg [Institute for Employment Research, Nuremberg, Germany].
    4. J.I.Lopez & V. Olivella Moppett, 2014. "Financial Shocks and the Cyclical Behavior of Skilled and Unskilled Unemployment," Working papers 496, Banque de France.
    5. Gangopadhyay, Kausik & Nishimura, Atsushi & Pal, Rupayan, 2016. "Can the information technology revolution explain the incidence of co-movement of skill premium and stock prices?," Economic Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 53(C), pages 107-120.
    6. Maté Fodor, 2016. "Essays on Education, Wages and Technology," ULB Institutional Repository 2013/239691, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
    7. Shim, Myungkyu & Yang, Hee-Seung, 2016. "New stylized facts on occupational employment and their implications: Evidence from consistent employment data," Economic Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 59(C), pages 402-415.
    8. Naoko Hara & Munechika Katayama & Ryo Kato, 2014. "Rising Skill Premium?: The Roles of Capital-Skill Complementarity and Sectoral Shifts in a Two-Sector Economy," Bank of Japan Working Paper Series 14-E-9, Bank of Japan.
    9. Hutter, Christian & Weber, Enzo, 2017. "Labour market effects of wage inequality and skill-biased technical change in Germany," IAB Discussion Paper 201705, Institut für Arbeitsmarkt- und Berufsforschung (IAB), Nürnberg [Institute for Employment Research, Nuremberg, Germany].

    More about this item


    skill-biased technology; skill premium; VAR; long-run restrictions; capital-skill complementarity; business cycle;

    JEL classification:

    • E24 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Employment; Unemployment; Wages; Intergenerational Income Distribution; Aggregate Human Capital; Aggregate Labor Productivity
    • E32 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Prices, Business Fluctuations, and Cycles - - - Business Fluctuations; Cycles
    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity
    • J31 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Wage Level and Structure; Wage Differentials


    Access and download statistics


    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:tpr:restat:v:95:y:2013:i:4:p:1222-1237. 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: (Kristin Waites). General contact details of provider: .

    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 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.

    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.