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Coping with Technological Progress: The Role of Ability in Making Inequality so Persistent

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  • Rubinstein, Yona
  • Tsiddon, Daniel

Abstract

This study explains the evolution of wage inequality over the last 30 years and supports this explanation with evidence. At each level of schooling, a faster rate of technological progress weakens the link between schooling and work and increases the unknown needed to cope with during one's working life. Coping with the unknown demands ability. By accentuating the role of ability, technological progress increases wage inequality within each group of education as well as between education groups. Inasmuch as education is an irreversible investment, the rise in within group inequality boosts up the rise of between group inequality. Guided by this theory we turn to the PSID for evidence. Using parents' education to approximate child's ability we show the following set of results: (a) Controlling for education of the child, parents' education contributes a lot more in the 1980s to his wage growth than in the 1970s. (b) The correlation between the parents' and the child's education increases from the 1970s to the 1980s. (c) The return to college education to the individual who has no ability rents has not changed - it remains steady at the reasonable number of 23 percent. (d) The uncertainty of post-college wage increases relative to the uncertainty of post-high school wages over the same period. (e) It is parents' education and not parents' income that explains the wage growth of their children.

Suggested Citation

  • Rubinstein, Yona & Tsiddon, Daniel, 1999. "Coping with Technological Progress: The Role of Ability in Making Inequality so Persistent," CEPR Discussion Papers 2153, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  • Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:2153
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Daniele Checchi & Giuseppe Bertola, 2001. "Sorting and private education in Italy," Departmental Working Papers 2001-21, Department of Economics, Management and Quantitative Methods at Università degli Studi di Milano.
    2. Gianni De Fraja, 2005. "Reverse Discrimination And Efficiency In Education," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 46(3), pages 1009-1031, August.
    3. John Hassler & José Rodríguez Mora & Joseph Zeira, 2007. "Inequality and mobility," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 12(3), pages 235-259, September.
    4. Azarnert, Leonid V., 2010. "Immigration, fertility, and human capital: A model of economic decline of the West," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 26(4), pages 431-440, December.
    5. Peter B. Meyer, 2005. "Turbulence, Inequality, and Cheap Steel," Working Papers 375, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
    6. Crifo, Patricia, 2008. "Skill supply and biased technical change," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 15(5), pages 812-830, October.
    7. Paul J. Zak, 2002. "Genetics, family structure, and economic growth," Journal of Evolutionary Economics, Springer, vol. 12(3), pages 343-365.
    8. James Heckman & Edward Vytlacil, 2001. "Identifying The Role Of Cognitive Ability In Explaining The Level Of And Change In The Return To Schooling," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 83(1), pages 1-12, February.
    9. Paul J. Zak & Kwang Woo Park, "undated". "Population Genetics and Economic Growth," Claremont Colleges Working Papers 2000-20, Claremont Colleges.
    10. Daron Acemoglu, 2002. "Technical Change, Inequality, and the Labor Market," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 40(1), pages 7-72, March.
    11. Audretsch, David B & Sanders, Mark, 2007. "Globalization and the Rise of the Entrepreneurial Economy," CEPR Discussion Papers 6247, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    12. Aghion, Philippe & Howitt, Peter & Violante, Giovanni L, 2002. "General Purpose Technology and Wage Inequality," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 7(4), pages 315-345, December.
    13. Gould, Eric D & Moav, Omer & Weinberg, Bruce A, 2001. "Precautionary Demand for Education, Inequality, and Technological Progress," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 6(4), pages 285-315, December.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Ability; Economic Growth; Inequality; Mobility; Technological Progress;

    JEL classification:

    • D31 - Microeconomics - - Distribution - - - Personal Income and Wealth Distribution
    • I21 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Analysis of Education
    • J31 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Wage Level and Structure; Wage Differentials
    • J62 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Job, Occupational and Intergenerational Mobility; Promotion
    • O40 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Growth and Aggregate Productivity - - - General

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