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Endogenous skill bias in technology adoption: city-level evidence from the IT revolution

  • Paul Beaudry
  • Mark Doms
  • Ethan Lewis

This paper focuses on the bi-directional interaction between technology adoption and labor market conditions. We examine cross-city differences in PC adoption, relative wages, and changes in relative wages over the period 1980-2000 to evaluate whether the patterns conform to the predictions of a neoclassical model of endogenous technology adoption. Our approach melds the literature on the effect of the relative supply of skilled labor on technology adoption to the often distinct literature on how technological change influences the relative demand for skilled labor. Our results support the idea that differences in technology use across cities and its effects on wages reflect an equilibrium response to local factor supply conditions. The model and data suggest that cities initially endowed with relatively abundant and cheap skilled labor adopted PCs more aggressively than cities with relatively expensive skilled labor, causing returns to skill to increase most in cities that adopted PCs most intensively. Our findings indicate that neoclassical models of endogenous technology adoption can be very useful for understanding where technological change arises and how it affects markets.

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Paper provided by Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco in its series Working Paper Series with number 2006-24.

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Date of creation: 2006
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Handle: RePEc:fip:fedfwp:2006-24
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  2. Paul Beaudry & David A. Green, 2002. "Changes in U.S. Wages 1976-2000: Ongoing Skill Bias or Major Technological Change?," NBER Working Papers 8787, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Comin, D. & Hobijn, B., 2003. "Cross-Country Technology Adoption: Making the Theories Face the Facts," Working Papers 03-04, C.V. Starr Center for Applied Economics, New York University.
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  14. David Card & Ethan G. Lewis, 2007. "The Diffusion of Mexican Immigrants During the 1990s: Explanations and Impacts," NBER Chapters, in: Mexican Immigration to the United States, pages 193-228 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  18. Christian Dustmann & Ian Preston & Francesca Fabbri, 2004. "Racial Harassment, Ethnic Concentration and Economic Conditions," CReAM Discussion Paper Series 0405, Centre for Research and Analysis of Migration (CReAM), Department of Economics, University College London.
  19. Joseph G. Altonji & David Card, 1991. "The Effects of Immigration on the Labor Market Outcomes of Less-skilled Natives," NBER Chapters, in: Immigration, Trade, and the Labor Market, pages 201-234 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  20. Rodolfo Manuelli & Ananth Seshadri, 2003. "Frictionless Technology Diffusion: The Case of Tractors," NBER Working Papers 9604, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  21. Ethan Lewis, 2005. "Immigration, skill mix, and the choice of technique," Working Papers 05-8, Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia.
  22. Thomas J. Kane & Cecilia Elena Rouse, 1999. "The Community College: Educating Students at the Margin between College and Work," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 13(1), pages 63-84, Winter.
  23. David H. Autor & Lawrence F. Katz & Melissa S. Kearney, 2006. "The Polarization of the U.S. Labor Market," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 96(2), pages 189-194, May.
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