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The March of the Techies: Technology, Trade, and Job Polarization in France, 1994-2007

Author

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  • James Harrigan
  • Ariell Reshef
  • Farid Toubal

Abstract

Using administrative employee-firm-level data on the entire private sector from 1994 to 2007, we show that the labor market in France has polarized: employment shares of high and low wage occupations have grown, while middle wage occupations have shrunk. During the same period, the share of hours worked in technology-related occupations (“techies”) grew substantially, as did imports and exports, and we explore the causal links between these trends. Our paper is among the first to analyze polarization in any country using firm-level data, and we show how polarization occurred within firms, but mostly due to changes in the composition of firms (between firms). Motivated by the fact that technology adoption is mediated by technically qualified managers and technicians, we use a new measure of the propensity of a firm to adopt new technology: its employment share of techies. Using the subsample of firms that are active over the whole period, we show that firms with more techies in 2002 saw greater polarization, and grew faster, from 2002 to 2007. Offshoring reduced employment growth. Among blue-collar workers in manufacturing, importing caused skill upgrading while exporting caused skill downgrading. To control for the endogeneity of firm-level techies and trade in 2002, we use values of techies and trade from 1994 to 1998 as instruments. We conclude that technological change, mediated through techies, is an important cause of polarization in France. Firm-level trade had important effects in manufacturing.

Suggested Citation

  • James Harrigan & Ariell Reshef & Farid Toubal, 2016. "The March of the Techies: Technology, Trade, and Job Polarization in France, 1994-2007," CESifo Working Paper Series 5942, CESifo Group Munich.
  • Handle: RePEc:ces:ceswps:_5942
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Stefano Schiavo & Lionel Nesta, 2017. "International Competition and Rent Sharing in French Manufacturing," DEM Working Papers 2017/07, Department of Economics and Management.
    2. Lee, Eunhee & Yi, Kei-Mu, 2018. "Global value chains and inequality with endogenous labor supply," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 115(C), pages 223-241.
    3. repec:eee:deveco:v:135:y:2018:i:c:p:412-432 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. repec:nse:ecosta:ecostat_2018_503-504_5 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. Pekkala Kerr, Sari & Maczulskij, Terhi & Maliranta, Mika, 2016. "Within and Between Firm Trends in Job Polarization: Role of Globalization and Technology," ETLA Working Papers 41, The Research Institute of the Finnish Economy.
    6. James Harrigan & Ariell Reshef & Farid Toubal, 2018. "Techies, Trade, and Skill-Biased Productivity," NBER Working Papers 25295, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    7. repec:eee:streco:v:45:y:2018:i:c:p:84-93 is not listed on IDEAS
    8. Ch-M. CHEVALIER & A. LUCIANI, 2018. "Computerization, labor productivity and employment: impacts across industries vary with technological level," Documents de Travail de l'Insee - INSEE Working Papers g2018-02, Institut National de la Statistique et des Etudes Economiques.
    9. Albertini, Julien & Hairault, Jean-Olivier & Langot, François & Sopraseuth, Thepthida, 2017. "A Tale of Two Countries: A Story of the French and US Polarization," IZA Discussion Papers 11013, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    10. Davide Consoli & Mabel Sánchez-Barrioluengo, 2016. "Polarization and the growth of low-skill employment in Spanish Local Labor Markets," Papers in Evolutionary Economic Geography (PEEG) 1628, Utrecht University, Department of Human Geography and Spatial Planning, Group Economic Geography, revised Nov 2016.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    job polarization; technological change; offshoring; skill bias; firm level data;

    JEL classification:

    • J20 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - General
    • O30 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - General
    • D30 - Microeconomics - - Distribution - - - General
    • F10 - International Economics - - Trade - - - General
    • F16 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Trade and Labor Market Interactions
    • F66 - International Economics - - Economic Impacts of Globalization - - - Labor

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