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Is Skill Biased Technological Change Here Yet? Evidence from India Manufacturing in the 1990s

In: Contributions in Memory of Zvi Griliches

  • Eli Berman
  • Rohini Somanathan
  • Hong W. Tan

Most high and middle-income countries showed symptoms of skill-biased technological change in the 1980s. India — a low income country — did not, perhaps because India's traditionally controlled economy may have limited the transfer of technologies from abroad. However the economy underwent a sharp reform and a manufacturing boom in the 1990s, raising the possibility that technology absorption may have accelerated during the past decade. We investigate the hypothesis that skill-biased technological change did in fact arrive in India in the 1990s using panel data disaggregated by industry and state from the Annual Survey of Industry (ASI). These data confirm that while the 1980s were a period of falling skills demand, the 1990s showed generally rising demand for skills, with variation across states. We find that increased output and capital-skill complementarity appear to be the best explanations of skill upgrading in the 1990s. Skill upgrading did not occur in the same set of industries in India as it did in other countries, suggesting that increased demand for skills in Indian manufacturing is not due to the international diffusion of recent vintages of skill-biased technologies.

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This chapter was published in:
  • Jacques Mairesse & Manuel Trajtenberg, 2010. "Contributions in Memory of Zvi Griliches," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number mair10-1, December.
  • This item is provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Chapters with number 12237.
    Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberch:12237
    Contact details of provider: Postal: National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Avenue Cambridge, MA 02138, U.S.A.
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    1. Timothy Besley & Robin Burgess, 2002. "Can labour regulation hinder economic performance? Evidence from India," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 3779, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    2. F. Zilibotti & P. Aghion & R. Burgess, 2004. "The Unequal Effects of Trade Liberalization: Theory and Evidence from India," 2004 Meeting Papers 40, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    3. Eli Berman & John Bound & Zvi Griliches, 1993. "Changes in the Demand for Skilled Labor within U.S. Manufacturing Industries: Evidence from the Annual Survey of Manufacturing," NBER Working Papers 4255, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Berman, Eli & Machin, Stephen, 2000. "Skill-Based Technology Transfer around the World," Oxford Review of Economic Policy, Oxford University Press, vol. 16(3), pages 12-22, Autumn.
    5. Sanchez-Paramo, Carolina & Schady, Norbert, 2003. "Off and running? Technology, trade and the rising demand for skilled workers in Latin America," Policy Research Working Paper Series 3015, The World Bank.
    6. Claudia Goldin & Lawrence F. Katz, 1998. "The Origins Of Technology-Skill Complementarity," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 113(3), pages 693-732, August.
    7. Jeffrey Sachs & Andrew Warner, 1995. "Economic Reform and the Progress of Global Integration," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 1733, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
    8. Eli Berman & John Bound & Stephen Machin, 1997. "Implications of Skill-Biased Technological Change: International Evidence," Boston University - Institute for Economic Development 78, Boston University, Institute for Economic Development.
    9. Eli Berman, 2000. "Does Factor-Biased Technological Change Stifle International Covergence? Evidence from Manufacturing," NBER Working Papers 7964, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    10. Attanasio, Orazio & Goldberg, Pinelopi K. & Pavcnik, Nina, 2004. "Trade reforms and wage inequality in Colombia," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 74(2), pages 331-366, August.
    11. Lawrence F. Katz & Gary W. Loveman & David G. Blanchflower, 1993. "A Comparison of Changes in the Structure of Wages," NBER Working Papers 4297, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    12. Griliches, Zvi, 1969. "Capital-Skill Complementarity," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 51(4), pages 465-68, November.
    13. Hanson, G.H. & Harrison, A., 1995. "Trade, Technology and Wage Inequality," Papers 95-20, Columbia - Graduate School of Business.
    14. 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.
    15. Griliches, Zvi, 1986. "Economic data issues," Handbook of Econometrics, in: Z. Griliches† & M. D. Intriligator (ed.), Handbook of Econometrics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 25, pages 1465-1514 Elsevier.
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