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Change in the Functional Structure of Firms and the Demand for Skill

  • Eric Maurin

    (Crest)

  • David Thesmar

    (Crest)

We describe and analyse the changes in the occupational structure of French manufacturing firms between 1984 and 1995. Firms employ a much greater proportions of engineers and researchers working on the design and marketing of new products and a much lower proportion of high-skilled experts working in administration-related activities. Firms have also reduced the share of production-related activities at both the levels of high-skilled and low-skilled workers. We develop a very simple labour demand model that shows the role played by technological change. By reducing the costs of activities that are the easiest to program in advance (notably for product fabrication), new information technologies make it possible to allocate more human and material resources to the activities that are the most difficult to program in advance, notably for the conception and marketing of new products. We show that this is the main channel through which new information technologies increase the demand for skill.

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Paper provided by Centre de Recherche en Economie et Statistique in its series Working Papers with number 2001-09.

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Date of creation: 2001
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Handle: RePEc:crs:wpaper:2001-09
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  1. Eli Berman & John Bound & Stephen Machin, 1997. "Implications of Skill-Biased Technological Change: International Evidence," NBER Working Papers 6166, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. 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, Centre interuniversitaire de recherche en ├ęconomie quantitative, CIREQ.
  3. Kenneth R. Troske, 1999. "Evidence On The Employer Size-Wage Premium From Worker-Establishment Matched Data," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 81(1), pages 15-26, February.
  4. Stephen Machin & John Van Reenen, 1998. "Technology And Changes In Skill Structure: Evidence From Seven Oecd Countries," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 113(4), pages 1215-1244, November.
  5. Dominique Goux & Eric Maurin, 1998. "The Decline in Demand for Unskilled Labor : An Empirical Analysis Method and its Application to France," Working Papers 98-53, Centre de Recherche en Economie et Statistique.
  6. David H. Autor & Lawrence F. Katz & Alan B. Krueger, 1998. "Computing Inequality: Have Computers Changed The Labor Market?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 113(4), pages 1169-1213, November.
  7. Timothy Dunne & John Haltiwanger & Kenneth R. Troske, 1996. "Technology and Jobs: Secular Changes and Cyclical Dynamics," NBER Working Papers 5656, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Entorf, Horst & Kramarz, Francis, 1997. "Does unmeasured ability explain the higher wages of new technology workers?," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 41(8), pages 1489-1509, August.
  9. David H. Autor & Frank Levy & Richard J. Murnane, 2001. "The Skill Content of Recent Technological Change: An Empirical Exploration," NBER Working Papers 8337, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Hollanders Hugo & Weel Bas ter, 2000. "Technology, Knowledge Spillovers and Changes in Skill Structure," Research Memorandum 001, Maastricht University, Maastricht Economic Research Institute on Innovation and Technology (MERIT).
  11. 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 355-61, May.
  12. 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.
  13. Dinardo, J.E. & Pischke, J.S., 1996. "The Returns to Computer Use Revisited: Have Pencils Changed the Wage Structure Too?," Working papers 96-12, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
  14. Doms, Mark & Dunne, Timothy & Troske, Kenneth R, 1997. "Workers, Wages, and Technology," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 112(1), pages 253-90, February.
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