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Can capital-skill complementarity explain the rising skill premium in developing countries? evidence from Peru

  • Joy Mazumdar
  • Myriam Quispe-Agnoli

The factors behind the increase in the relative wages of skilled workers in developing countries are still not well understood. The authors use data from Peru to analyze the determinants of within-industry share of skilled workers. They use a translog cost function for gross output and are therefore able to incorporate the effects of materials, both domestic and imported, in addition to capital. The authors find that capital accumulation can explain a large fraction of the increase in the wage bill share and relative wages of skilled labor. This finding is contrary to the commonly held view that unobservable technological change is responsible for the rising skill premium in both developing and developed economies. A test for separability indicates that a gross output cost function is the appropriate one to use, and therefore share equations based on value-added cost functions could be misspecified.

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Paper provided by Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta in its series FRB Atlanta Working Paper No. with number 2004-11.

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Date of creation: 2004
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Handle: RePEc:fip:fedawp:2004-11
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  1. Berman, Eli & Machin, Stephen, 2000. "Skill-Based Technology Transfer around the World," Oxford Review of Economic Policy, Oxford University Press, vol. 16(3), pages 12-22, Autumn.
  2. Robert C. Feenstra & Gordon H. Hanson, 1995. "Foreign Investment, Outsourcing and Relative Wages," NBER Working Papers 5121, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Berman, Eli & Bound, John & Griliches, Zvi, 1994. "Changes in the Demand for Skilled Labor within U.S. Manufacturing: Evidence from the Annual Survey of Manufactures," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 109(2), pages 367-97, May.
  4. Nina Pavcnik, 2000. "What Explains Skill Upgrading in Less Developed Countries?," NBER Working Papers 7846, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Donald R. Davis, 1996. "Trade Liberalization and Income Distribution," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 1769, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
  6. Gordon H. Hanson & Ann Harrison, 1999. "Trade Liberalization and Wage Inequality in Mexico," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 52(2), pages 271-288, January.
  7. 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.
  8. Jaime Saavedra-Chanduví & Máximo Torero, 2000. "Labor Market Reforms and Their Impact on Formal Labor Demand and Job Market Turnover: The Case of Peru," IDB Publications (Working Papers) 43058, Inter-American Development Bank.
  9. Griliches, Zvi, 1969. "Capital-Skill Complementarity," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 51(4), pages 465-68, November.
  10. Wood, Adrian, 1997. "Openness and Wage Inequality in Developing Countries: The Latin American Challenge to East Asian Conventional Wisdom," World Bank Economic Review, World Bank Group, vol. 11(1), pages 33-57, January.
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