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Investment-specific Technical Change and the Dynamics of Skill Accumulation and Wage Inequality

  • Hui He
  • Zheng Liu

Wage inequality between education groups in the United States has increased substantially since the early 1980s. The relative quantity of college-educated workers has also increased dramatically in the postwar period. This paper presents a unified framework where the dynamics of both skill accumulation and wage inequality arise as an equilibrium outcome driven by measured investment-specific technological change. Working through capital-skill complementarity and endogenous skill accumulation, the model is able to account for much of the observed changes in the relative quantity of skilled workers. The model also does well in replicating the observed rise in wage inequality since the early 1980s. Based on the calibrated model, we examine the quantitative effects of some hypothetical tax-policy reforms on skill formation, inequality, and welfare.

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Paper provided by Department of Economics, Emory University (Atlanta) in its series Emory Economics with number 0609.

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Date of creation: Aug 2006
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Handle: RePEc:emo:wp2003:0609
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  1. Andreas Hornstein & Per Krusell, 2003. "Implications of the capital-embodiment revolution for directed R&D and wage inequality," Economic Quarterly, Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond, issue Fall, pages 25-50.
  2. John Duffy & Chris Papageorgiou & Fidel Perez-Sebastian, 2004. "Capital-Skill Complementarity? Evidence from a Panel of Countries," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 86(1), pages 327-344, February.
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  5. Kaiji Chen & Ayse Imrohoroglu & Selo Imrohoroglu, 2005. "Japanese Saving Rate," Macroeconomics 0502017, EconWPA.
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  8. David Domeij & Jonathan Heathcote, 2004. "On The Distributional Effects Of Reducing Capital Taxes," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 45(2), pages 523-554, 05.
  9. Griliches, Zvi, 1969. "Capital-Skill Complementarity," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 51(4), pages 465-68, November.
  10. Daron Acemoglu, 2000. "Technical Change, Inequality, and the Labor Market," NBER Working Papers 7800, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. Enrique G. Mendoza & Assaf Razin & Linda L. Tesar, 1994. "Effective Tax Rates in Macroeconomics: Cross-Country Estimates of Tax Rates on Factor Incomes and Consumption," NBER Working Papers 4864, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. Per Krusell & Lee E. Ohanian & JosÈ-Victor RÌos-Rull & Giovanni L. Violante, 2000. "Capital-Skill Complementarity and Inequality: A Macroeconomic Analysis," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 68(5), pages 1029-1054, September.
  13. Philippe Aghion, 2002. "Schumpeterian Growth Theory and the Dynamics of Income Inequality," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 70(3), pages 855-882, May.
  14. Perli, Roberto & Sakellaris, Plutarchos, 1998. "Human capital formation and business cycle persistence," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 42(1), pages 67-92, June.
  15. James Heckman & Lance Lochner & Christopher Taber, 1998. "Explaining Rising Wage Inequality: Explanations With A Dynamic General Equilibrium Model of Labor Earnings With Heterogeneous Agents," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 1(1), pages 1-58, January.
  16. Blankenau, William F. & Ingram, Beth F., 2002. "Welfare Implications Of Factor Taxation With Rising Wage Inequality," Macroeconomic Dynamics, Cambridge University Press, vol. 6(03), pages 408-428, June.
  17. Acemoglu, D., 1997. "Why Do New Technologies Complement Skills? Directed Technical Change and Wage Inequality," Working papers 97-14, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
  18. Gordon, Robert J., 1990. "The Measurement of Durable Goods Prices," National Bureau of Economic Research Books, University of Chicago Press, edition 1, number 9780226304557.
  19. McGrattan, Ellen R., 1994. "The macroeconomic effects of distortionary taxation," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 33(3), pages 573-601, June.
  20. Greenwood, J. & Hercowitz, Z. & Krusell, P., 1996. "Long-Run Implications of Investment-Specific Technological Change," RCER Working Papers 420, University of Rochester - Center for Economic Research (RCER).
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  22. Stokey, Nancy L, 1996. " Free Trade, Factor Returns, and Factor Accumulation," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 1(4), pages 421-47, December.
  23. Juan C. Conesa & Dirk Krueger, 1999. "Social Security Reform with Heterogeneous Agents," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 2(4), pages 757-795, October.
  24. William Blankenau, 1999. "A Welfare Analysis of Policy Responses to the Skilled Wage Premium," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 2(4), pages 820-849, October.
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