Changes in U.S. Wages, 19762000: Ongoing Skill Bias or Major Technological Change?
This article examines the determinants of changes in the U.S. wage structure from 1976 to 2000. Our main empirical observation is that changes in both the level of wages and the returns to skill over this period were primarily driven by changes in the ratio of human capital to physical capital. We show that this pattern conforms extremely well to a simple model of technological adoption following a major change in technological opportunities. In contrast, we do not find much empirical support for the view that ongoing (factor-augmenting) skill-biased technological progress has been an important driving force over this period.
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