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Has ICT polarized skill demand? Evidence from eleven countries over 25 years

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  • Michaels, Guy
  • Natraj, Ashwini
  • Van Reenen, John

Abstract

We test the hypothesis that information and communication technologies (ICT) “polarize” labor markets, by increasing demand for the highly educated at the expense of the middle educated, with little effect on low-educated workers. Using data on the US, Japan, and nine European countries from 1980–2004, we find that industries with faster ICT growth shifted demand from middle educated workers to highly educated workers, consistent with ICT-based polarization. Trade openness is also associated with polarization, but this is not robust to controlling for R&D. Technologies account for up to a quarter of the growth in demand for highly educated workers.

Suggested Citation

  • Michaels, Guy & Natraj, Ashwini & Van Reenen, John, 2014. "Has ICT polarized skill demand? Evidence from eleven countries over 25 years," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 46830, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
  • Handle: RePEc:ehl:lserod:46830
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    Keywords

    technology; skill demand; polarization; wage inequality;

    JEL classification:

    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity
    • O33 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Technological Change: Choices and Consequences; Diffusion Processes
    • J23 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Labor Demand

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