IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/
MyIDEAS: Log in (now much improved!) to save this book chapter

The Effects of Technical Change on Labor Market Inequalities

In: Handbook of Economic Growth

Listed author(s):
  • Hornstein, Andreas
  • Krusell, Per
  • Violante, Giovanni L.

In this chapter we inspect economic mechanisms through which technological progress shapes the degree of inequality among workers in the labor market. A key focus is on the rise of U.S. wage inequality over the past 30 years. However, we also pay attention to how Europe did not experience changes in wage inequality but instead saw a sharp increase in unemployment and an increased labor share of income, variables that remained stable in the U.S. We hypothesize that these changes in labor market inequalities can be accounted for by the wave of capital-embodied technological change, which we also document. We propose a variety of mechanisms based on how technology increases the returns to education, ability, experience, and "luck" in the labor market. We also discuss how the wage distribution may have been indirectly influenced by technical change through changes in certain aspects of the organization of work, such as the hierarchical structure of firms, the extent of unionization, and the degree of centralization of bargaining. To account for the U.S.-Europe differences, we use a theory based on institutional differences between the United States and Europe, along with a common acceleration of technical change. Finally, we briefly comment on the implications of labor market inequalities for welfare and for economic policy.

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

File URL: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/B7P5F-4HP4N1N-9/2/23b7f57f1582f5e64d0420e8973058da
Download Restriction: Full text for ScienceDirect subscribers only

As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version under "Related research" (further below) or search for a different version of it.

as
in new window

This chapter was published in:
  • Philippe Aghion & Steven Durlauf (ed.), 2005. "Handbook of Economic Growth," Handbook of Economic Growth, Elsevier, edition 1, volume 1, number 1.
  • This item is provided by Elsevier in its series Handbook of Economic Growth with number 1-20.
    Handle: RePEc:eee:grochp:1-20
    Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/wps/find/bookseriesdescription.cws_home/BS_HE/description

    References listed on IDEAS
    Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:

    as
    in new window


    1. Bentollia, S. & Saint-Paul, G., 1999. "Explaining Movements in the Labor Share," Papers 9905, Centro de Estudios Monetarios Y Financieros-.
    2. James Heckman, 2011. "Policies to foster human capital," Educational Studies, Higher School of Economics, issue 3, pages 73-137.
    3. Philippe Aghion, 2002. "Schumpeterian Growth Theory and the Dynamics of Income Inequality," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 70(3), pages 855-882, May.
    4. Jason G. Cummins & Giovanni L. Violante, 2002. "Investment-Specific Technical Change in the US (1947-2000): Measurement and Macroeconomic Consequences," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 5(2), pages 243-284, April.
    5. Matthew F. Mitchell, 2001. "Specialization and the skill premium in the 20th century," Staff Report 290, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
    6. Claudia Goldin & Robert A. Margo, 1991. "The Great Compression: The Wage Structure in the United States at Mid- Century," NBER Working Papers 3817, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    7. Katz, L.F. & Murphy, K.M., 1991. "Changes in Relative Wages, 1963-1987: Supply and Demand Factors," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 1580, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
    8. repec:fth:prinin:306 is not listed on IDEAS
    9. Chinhui Juhn, 1992. "Decline of Male Labor Market Participation: The Role of Declining Market Opportunities," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 107(1), pages 79-121.
    10. Elhanan Helpman & Antonio Rangel, 1998. "Adjusting to a New Technology: Experience and Training," Working Papers 99002, Stanford University, Department of Economics.
    11. Narayana Kocherlakota, 2010. "Implications of Efficient Risk Sharing Without Commitment," Levine's Working Paper Archive 2053, David K. Levine.
    12. Rodolfo E. Manuelli, 2000. "Technological Change, the Labor Market and the Stock Market," NBER Working Papers 8022, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    13. Stephen D. Oliner & Daniel E. Sichel, 2000. "The Resurgence of Growth in the Late 1990s: Is Information Technology the Story?," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 14(4), pages 3-22, Fall.
    14. Eve Caroli & John Van Reenen, 2001. "Skill-Biased Organizational Change? Evidence from A Panel of British and French Establishments," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 116(4), pages 1449-1492.
    15. Gould, Eric D & Paserman, M. Daniele, 2002. "Waiting for Mr Right: Rising Inequality and Declining Marriage Rates," CEPR Discussion Papers 3388, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    16. Bahk, Byong-Hong & Gort, Michael, 1993. "Decomposing Learning by Doing in New Plants," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 101(4), pages 561-583, August.
    17. Acemoglu, D., 1996. "Changes in Unemployment and Wage Inequality: An Alternative Theory and Some Evidence," Working papers 96-15, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
    18. Richard Rogerson, 2004. "Two Views on the Deterioration of European Labor Market Outcomes," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 2(2-3), pages 447-455, 04/05.
    19. Mathias Dewatripont & Patrick Bolton, 2004. "The firm as a communication network," ULB Institutional Repository 2013/9599, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
    20. Dirk Kreuger & Fabrizio Perri, 2002. "Does Income Inequality Lead to Consumption Inequality? Evidence and Theory," Working Papers 02-15, New York University, Leonard N. Stern School of Business, Department of Economics.
    21. Dinardo, J. & Fortin, N.M. & Lemieux, T., 1994. "Labor Market Institutions and the Distribution of Wages, 1973-1992: a Semiparametric Approach," Cahiers de recherche 9406, Universite de Montreal, Departement de sciences economiques.
    22. Krueger, Dirk & Perri, Fabrizio, 2002. "Does Income Inequality Lead to Consumption Inequality?," CEPR Discussion Papers 3583, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    23. Erik Brynjolfsson & Lorin M. Hitt, 2000. "Beyond Computation: Information Technology, Organizational Transformation and Business Performance," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 14(4), pages 23-48, Fall.
    24. Irwin, Douglas A & Klenow, Peter J, 1994. "Learning-by-Doing Spillovers in the Semiconductor Industry," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 102(6), pages 1200-1227, December.
    25. Dale T. Mortensen & Christopher A. Pissarides, 1998. "Technological Progress, Job Creation and Job Destruction," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 1(4), pages 733-753, October.
    26. Attanasio, Orazio & Davis, Steven J, 1996. "Relative Wage Movements and the Distribution of Consumption," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 104(6), pages 1227-1262, December.
    27. 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.
    28. Michael Kremer & Eric Maskin, 1996. "Wage Inequality and Segregation by Skill," NBER Working Papers 5718, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    29. John Y. Campbell, 2001. "Have Individual Stocks Become More Volatile? An Empirical Exploration of Idiosyncratic Risk," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 56(1), pages 1-43, 02.
    30. Flug, K. & Hercowitz, Z., 1998. "Equipment Investment and the Relative Demand for Skilled Labour: International Evidence," Papers 05-98, Tel Aviv.
    31. 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.
    32. Paul Segerstrom & Elias Dinopoulos, 1999. "A Schumpeterian Model of Protection and Relative Wages," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(3), pages 450-472, June.
    33. Bartel, Ann P & Sicherman, Nachum, 1998. "Technological Change and the Skill Acquisition of Young Workers," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 16(4), pages 718-755, October.
    34. Hulten, Charles R, 1992. "Growth Accounting When Technical Change Is Embodied in Capital," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 82(4), pages 964-980, September.
    35. Steven J. Haider, 2000. "Earnings Instability and Earnings Inequality of Males in the United States: 1967-1991," Working Papers 00-15, RAND Corporation.
    36. James Heckman & Lance Lochner & Christopher Taber, 1998. "Explaining Rising Wage Inequality: Explanations With A Dynamic General Equilibrium Model of Labor Earnings With Heterogeneous Agents," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 1(1), pages 1-58, January.
    37. Johnson, David & Shipp, Stephanie, 1997. "Trends in Inequality Using Consumption-Expenditures: The U.S. from 1960 to 1993," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 43(2), pages 133-152, June.
    38. Iversen, Torben, 1998. "Wage Bargaining, Central Bank Independence, and the Real Effects of Money," International Organization, Cambridge University Press, vol. 52(03), pages 469-504, June.
    39. Oded Galor & Omer Moav, 1998. "Ability Biased Technological Transition, Wage Inequality, and Economic Growth," Working Papers 98-14, Brown University, Department of Economics.
    40. Patrick Bolton & Mathias Dewatripont, 1994. "The Firm as a Communication Network," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 109(4), pages 809-839.
    41. Freeman, Richard B, 1988. "Contraction and Expansion: The Divergence of Private Sector and Public Sector Unionism in the United States," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 2(2), pages 63-88, Spring.
    42. Michael T. Kiley, 1997. "The supply of skilled labor and skill-based technological progress," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 1997-45, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
    43. Timothy F. Bresnahan & Erik Brynjolfsson & Lorin M. Hitt, 1999. "Information Technology, Workplace Organization and the Demand for Skilled Labor: Firm-Level Evidence," NBER Working Papers 7136, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    44. Bresnahan, Timothy F. & Trajtenberg, M., 1995. "General purpose technologies 'Engines of growth'?," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 65(1), pages 83-108, January.
    45. Charles R. Hulten, 1992. "Growth Accounting When Technical Change is Embodied in Capital," NBER Working Papers 3971, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    46. Daron Acemoglu, 2003. "Labor- And Capital-Augmenting Technical Change," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 1(1), pages 1-37, 03.
    47. David Card, 2001. "The Effect of Unions on Wage Inequality in the U.S. Labor Market," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 54(2), pages 296-315, January.
    48. ., 1994. "Firm, Theoru of the (I)," Chapters, in: The Elgar Companion to Institutional and Evolutionary Economics, chapter 44 Edward Elgar Publishing.
    49. Stephen Machin, 2000. "Union decline in Britain," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 20191, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    50. David Thesmar & Mathias Thoenig, 2000. "Creative Destruction and Firm Organization Choice," Université Paris1 Panthéon-Sorbonne (Post-Print and Working Papers) hal-00485579, HAL.
    51. Costas Meghir & Luigi Pistaferri, 2001. "Income variance dynamics and heterogenity," IFS Working Papers W01/07, Institute for Fiscal Studies.
    52. Dirk Krueger & Krishna B. Kumar, 2004. "Skill-Specific rather than General Education: A Reason for US--Europe Growth Differences?," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 9(2), pages 167-207, 06.
    53. Christopher A. Pissarides, 2000. "Equilibrium Unemployment Theory, 2nd Edition," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262161877, September.
    54. Thomas Piketty & Emmanuel Saez, 2003. "Income Inequality in the United States, 1913–1998," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 118(1), pages 1-41.
    55. Becker, Gary S, 1973. "A Theory of Marriage: Part I," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 81(4), pages 813-846, July-Aug..
    56. ., 1994. "Firm, Theoru of the (II)," Chapters, in: The Elgar Companion to Institutional and Evolutionary Economics, chapter 45 Edward Elgar Publishing.
    57. ., 1994. "Firm, Boundaries of the," Chapters, in: The Elgar Companion to Institutional and Evolutionary Economics, chapter 43 Edward Elgar Publishing.
    58. Andreas Hornstein & Per Krusell, 1996. "Can Technology Improvements Cause Productivity Slowdowns?," NBER Chapters, in: NBER Macroeconomics Annual 1996, Volume 11, pages 209-276 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    59. Juhn, Chinhui & Murphy, Kevin M & Pierce, Brooks, 1993. "Wage Inequality and the Rise in Returns to Skill," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 101(3), pages 410-442, June.
    60. Diego Comin & Sunil Mulani, 2003. "Diverging Trends in Macro and Micro Volatility: Facts," Macroeconomics 0306008, EconWPA.
    61. Andreas Hornstein, 1999. "Growth accounting with technological revolutions," Economic Quarterly, Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond, issue Sum, pages 1-22.
    62. Claudia Goldin & Lawrence F. Katz, 1999. "The Returns to Skill in the United States across the Twentieth Century," NBER Working Papers 7126, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    63. Gilles Saint-Paul, 2001. "On the Distribution of Income and Worker Assignment under Intrafirm Spillovers, with an Application to Ideas and Networks," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 109(1), pages 1-37, February.
    64. Huggett, Mark, 1996. "Wealth distribution in life-cycle economies," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 38(3), pages 469-494, December.
    65. Gilles Duranton, 1998. "The Economics of Productive Systems: Segmentation and Skill-Biased Change," CEP Discussion Papers dp0398, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
    66. Olivier Blanchard & Justin Wolfers, 1999. "The Role of Shocks and Institutions in the Rise of European Unemployment: The Aggregate Evidence," NBER Working Papers 7282, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    67. Hyunbae Chun, 2003. "Information Technology and the Demand for Educated Workers: Disentangling the Impacts of Adoption versus Use," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 85(1), pages 1-8, February.
    68. Aghion, Philippe, 2002. "Schumpeterian Growth Theory and the Dynamics of Income Inequality," Scholarly Articles 3350067, Harvard University Department of Economics.
    69. William T. Dickens & Jonathan S. Leonard, 1985. "Accounting for the Decline in Union Membership, 1950–1980," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 38(3), pages 323-334, April.
    70. anonymous, 1994. "Research confirms rationality of analysts' forecasts," Economics Update, Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, issue Apr, pages 1-2.
    71. Donghoon Lee & Kenneth I. Wolpin, 2006. "Intersectoral Labor Mobility and the Growth of the Service Sector," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 74(1), pages 1-46, 01.
    72. Shouyong Shi, 2002. "A Directed Search Model of Inequality with Heterogeneous Skills and Skill-Biased Technology," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 69(2), pages 467-491.
    73. Addison, John T. & Bailey, Ralph & Siebert, W. Stanley, 2003. "The Impact of Deunionisation on Earnings Dispersion Revisited," IZA Discussion Papers 724, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    74. Raghuram G. Rajan & Julie Wulf, 2006. "The Flattening Firm: Evidence from Panel Data on the Changing Nature of Corporate Hierarchies," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 88(4), pages 759-773, November.
    75. Henry S. Farber & Bruce Western, 2002. "Ronald Reagan and the Politics of Declining Union Organization," British Journal of Industrial Relations, London School of Economics, vol. 40(3), pages 385-401, 09.
    76. Greenwood, Jeremy & Yorukoglu, Mehmet, 1997. "1974," Carnegie-Rochester Conference Series on Public Policy, Elsevier, vol. 46(1), pages 49-95, June.
      • Greenwood, J. & Yorukoglu, M., 1996. "1974," RCER Working Papers 429, University of Rochester - Center for Economic Research (RCER).
    77. David Card & Thomas Lemieux, 2001. "Can Falling Supply Explain the Rising Return to College for Younger Men? A Cohort-Based Analysis," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 116(2), pages 705-746.
    78. repec:ucp:bknber:9780226304557 is not listed on IDEAS
    79. Katz, Lawrence F. & Autor, David H., 1999. "Changes in the wage structure and earnings inequality," Handbook of Labor Economics, in: O. Ashenfelter & D. Card (ed.), Handbook of Labor Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 26, pages 1463-1555 Elsevier.
    80. Hall, Robert E, 1973. "The Specification of Technology with Several Kinds of Output," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 81(4), pages 878-892, July-Aug..
    81. Dirk Krueger & Fabrizio Perri, 2004. "On the Welfare Consequences of the Increase in Inequality in the United States," NBER Chapters, in: NBER Macroeconomics Annual 2003, Volume 18, pages 83-138 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    82. Robert J. Gordon, 1990. "The Measurement of Durable Goods Prices," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number gord90-1.
    83. Andreas Hornstein & Per Krusell, 2003. "Implications of the capital-embodiment revolution for directed R&D and wage inequality," Economic Quarterly, Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond, issue Fall, pages 25-50.
    84. David Neumark, 2000. "Changes in Job Stability and Job Security: A Collective Effort to Untangle, Reconcile, and Interpret the Evidence," NBER Working Papers 7472, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    85. Ingram, Beth & Neumann, George, 1999. "An Analysis of the Evolution of the Skill Premium," Working Papers 99-08, University of Iowa, Department of Economics.
    86. King, Ian & Welling, Linda, 1995. "Search, unemployment, and growth," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 35(3), pages 499-507, June.
    87. Borghans,Lex & Weel,Bas,ter, 2003. "The Diffusion of Computers and the Distribution of Wages," ROA Research Memorandum 003, Maastricht University, Research Centre for Education and the Labour Market (ROA).
    88. 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.
    89. repec:hrv:faseco:30703979 is not listed on IDEAS
    90. David, Paul A, 1990. "The Dynamo and the Computer: An Historical Perspective on the Modern Productivity Paradox," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 80(2), pages 355-361, May.
    91. Giovanni L. Violante, 2002. "Technological Acceleration, Skill Transferability, and the Rise in Residual Inequality," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 117(1), pages 297-338.
    92. Christopher J. Flinn, 2002. "Labour Market Structure and Inequality: A Comparison of Italy and the U.S," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 69(3), pages 611-645.
    93. Hans Hansen, 1998. "Transition from unemployment benefits to social assistance in seven European OECD countries," Empirical Economics, Springer, vol. 23(1/2), pages 5-30.
    94. Sattinger, Michael, 1995. "Search and the Efficient Assignment of Workers to Jobs," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 36(2), pages 283-302, May.
    95. repec:pri:indrel:dsp01pv63g025h is not listed on IDEAS
    96. Guido Cozzi & Giammario Impullitti, "undated". "Technology Policy and Wage Inequality," Working Papers 2008_23, Business School - Economics, University of Glasgow, revised Oct 2006.
    97. Card, David, 1996. "The Effect of Unions on the Structure of Wages: A Longitudinal Analysis," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 64(4), pages 957-979, July.
    98. Dooley, Martin D & Gottschalk, Peter, 1984. "Earnings Inequality among Males in the United States: Trends and the Effect of Labor Force Growth," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 92(1), pages 59-89, February.
    99. Cohen, Daniel, 1999. "Welfare differentials across French and US labor markets $e_A general equilibrium interpretation," CEPREMAP Working Papers (Couverture Orange) 9904, CEPREMAP.
    100. Levy, Frank & Murnane, Richard J, 1992. "U.S. Earnings Levels and Earnings Inequality: A Review of Recent Trends and Proposed Explanations," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 30(3), pages 1333-1381, September.
    101. Blau, Francine D & Kahn, Lawrence M, 1997. "Swimming Upstream: Trends in the Gender Wage Differential in 1980s," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 15(1), pages 1-42, January.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

    When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:eee:grochp:1-20. 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: (Dana Niculescu)

    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 references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

    If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link 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 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.

    This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.