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Should the Personal Computer Be Considered a Technological Revolution? Evidence from U.S. Metropolitan Areas

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  • Paul Beaudry
  • Mark Doms
  • Ethan Lewis

Abstract

The introduction and diffusion of personal computers are widely viewed as a technological revolution. Using U.S. metropolitan area-level panel data, this paper asks whether links between PC adoption, educational attainment, and the return to skill conform to a model of technological revolutions in which the speed and extent of adoption are endogenous. The model implies that cities will adjust differently to the arrival of a more skill-intensive means of production, with the returns to skill increasing most where skill is abundant and its return is low. We show that the cross-city data fit many of the predictions of the model during the period 1980-2000, the PC diffusion era.

Suggested Citation

  • Paul Beaudry & Mark Doms & Ethan Lewis, 2010. "Should the Personal Computer Be Considered a Technological Revolution? Evidence from U.S. Metropolitan Areas," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 118(5), pages 988-1036.
  • Handle: RePEc:ucp:jpolec:doi:10.1086/658371
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Moretti, Enrico, 2004. "Estimating the social return to higher education: evidence from longitudinal and repeated cross-sectional data," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 121(1-2), pages 175-212.
    2. Paul Beaudry & David A. Green, 2003. "Wages and Employment in the United States and Germany: What Explains the Differences?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(3), pages 573-602, June.
    3. David Card & John E. DiNardo, 2002. "Skill-Biased Technological Change and Rising Wage Inequality: Some Problems and Puzzles," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 20(4), pages 733-783, October.
    4. 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.
    5. Gordon B. Dahl, 2002. "Mobility and the Return to Education: Testing a Roy Model with Multiple Markets," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 70(6), pages 2367-2420, November.
    6. Bartel, Ann P & Lichtenberg, Frank R, 1987. "The Comparative Advantage of Educated Workers in Implementing New Technology," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 69(1), pages 1-11, February.
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