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Changes in U.S. Wages, 19762000: Ongoing Skill Bias or Major Technological Change?

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  • Paul Beaudry

    (University of British Columbia)

  • David A. Green

    (University of British Columbia)

Abstract

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.

Suggested Citation

  • Paul Beaudry & David A. Green, 2005. "Changes in U.S. Wages, 19762000: Ongoing Skill Bias or Major Technological Change?," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 23(3), pages 609-648, July.
  • Handle: RePEc:ucp:jlabec:v:23:y:2005:i:3:p:609-648
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    Cited by:

    1. Paul Beaudry & David A. Green & Benjamin M. Sand, 2016. "The Great Reversal in the Demand for Skill and Cognitive Tasks," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 34(S1), pages 199-247.
    2. Ariell Reshef, 2013. "Is Technological Change Biased Towards the Unskilled in Services? An Empirical Investigation," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 16(2), pages 312-331, April.
    3. repec:kap:jecgro:v:23:y:2018:i:1:d:10.1007_s10887-017-9146-y is not listed on IDEAS
    4. Susan Hayter & Bradley Weinberg, 2011. "Mind the Gap: Collective Bargaining and Wage Inequality," Chapters,in: The Role of Collective Bargaining in the Global Economy, chapter 6 Edward Elgar Publishing.
    5. Batyra, Anna & Sneessens, Henri R., 2010. "Selective reductions in labor taxation: Labor market adjustments and macroeconomic performance," Journal of Policy Modeling, Elsevier, vol. 32(4), pages 531-543, July.
    6. Ottaviano, Gianmarco I.P. & Peri, Giovanni & Wright, Greg C., 2018. "Immigration, trade and productivity in services: Evidence from U.K. firms," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 112(C), pages 88-108.
    7. Jonas Hjort & Jonas Poulsen, 2017. "The Arrival of Fast Internet and Employment in Africa," NBER Working Papers 23582, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    8. Gavilan, Angel, 2012. "Wage inequality, segregation by skill and the price of capital in an assignment model," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 56(1), pages 116-137.
    9. repec:eee:juecon:v:104:y:2018:i:c:p:1-15 is not listed on IDEAS
    10. Christian Dustmann & Albrecht Glitz, 2015. "How Do Industries and Firms Respond to Changes in Local Labor Supply?," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 33(3), pages 711-750.
    11. Richard Blundell & David A. Green & Wenchao (Michelle) Jin, 2016. "The UK wage premium puzzle: how did a large increase in university graduates leave the education premium unchanged?," IFS Working Papers W16/01, Institute for Fiscal Studies.
    12. Matthew Johnson & Michael P. Keane, 2013. "A Dynamic Equilibrium Model of the US Wage Structure, 1968-1996," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 31(1), pages 1-49.
    13. Leuven, Edwin & Akerman, Anders & Mogstad, Magne, 2018. "Information Frictions, Internet and the Relationship between Distance and Trade," Memorandum 1/2018, Oslo University, Department of Economics.
    14. Weiss, Matthias, 2008. "Skill-biased technological change: Is there hope for the unskilled?," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 100(3), pages 439-441, September.
    15. Ashley Lester, 2006. "Inequality And The Dual Economy: Technology Adoption With Specific And General Skills," CAMA Working Papers 2006-01, Centre for Applied Macroeconomic Analysis, Crawford School of Public Policy, The Australian National University.
    16. Alberto Alesina & Michele Battisti & Joseph Zeira, 2018. "Technology and labor regulations: theory and evidence," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 23(1), pages 41-78, March.
    17. Paul Beaudry & Mark Doms & Ethan Lewis, 2006. "Endogenous skill bias in technology adoption: city-level evidence from the IT revolution," Working Paper Series 2006-24, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco.
    18. Corsini, Lorenzo, 2008. "Institutions, Technological Change and the Wage Differentials Between Skilled and Unskilled Workers: Theory and Evidence from Europe," IRISS Working Paper Series 2008-02, IRISS at CEPS/INSTEAD.
    19. Mollick, André Varella, 2012. "Income inequality in the U.S.: The Kuznets hypothesis revisited," Economic Systems, Elsevier, vol. 36(1), pages 127-144.
    20. David Card & Ethan G. Lewis, 2007. "The Diffusion of Mexican Immigrants During the 1990s: Explanations and Impacts," NBER Chapters,in: Mexican Immigration to the United States, pages 193-228 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    21. Cabral, René & García-Díaz, Rocío & Mollick, André Varella, 2016. "Does globalization affect top income inequality?," Journal of Policy Modeling, Elsevier, vol. 38(5), pages 916-940.
    22. Asplund, Rita & Napari, Sami, 2011. "Intangible capital and wages: An analysis of wage gaps across occupations and genders in Czech Republic, Finland and Norway," Discussion Papers 1248, The Research Institute of the Finnish Economy.
    23. Ken Henry & Terry O'Brien, 2003. "Globalisation, Poverty and Inequality: Friends, Foes or Strangers?," Australian Economic Review, The University of Melbourne, Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research, vol. 36(1), pages 3-21.
    24. Susan Hayter, 2015. "Unions and collective bargaining," Chapters,in: Labour Markets, Institutions and Inequality, chapter 4, pages 95-122 Edward Elgar Publishing.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • J3 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs
    • O3 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights

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