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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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  1. Daron Acemoglu, 2001. "Directed Technical Change," NBER Working Papers 8287, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Ethan Lewis, 2005. "Immigration, Skill Mix, and the Choice of Technique," Working Papers 05-04, Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau.
  3. Rodolfo E. Manuelli & Ananth Seshadri, 2013. "Frictionless technology diffusion: the case of tractors," Working Papers 2013-022, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.
  4. Finis Welch, 2000. "Growth in Women's Relative Wages and in Inequality among Men: One Phenomenon or Two?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(2), pages 444-449, May.
  5. Francesco Caselli & Wilbur John Coleman II, 2000. "The World Technology Frontier," NBER Working Papers 7904, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. David Card & John E. DiNardo, 2002. "Skill-Biased Technological Change and Rising Wage Inequality: Some Problems and Puzzles," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 20(4), pages 733-783, October.
  7. Mark Doms, 2005. "The diffusion of personal computers across the United States," FRBSF Economic Letter, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, issue dec23.
  8. Christian Dustmann & Francesca Fabbri & Ian Preston, 2011. "Racial Harassment, Ethnic Concentration, and Economic Conditions," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 113(3), pages 689-711, 09.
  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. David Card & Ethan G. Lewis, 2005. "The Diffusion of Mexican Immigrants During the 1990s: Explanations and Impacts," NBER Working Papers 11552, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. Paul Beaudry & David A. Green, 2005. "Changes in U.S. Wages, 19762000: Ongoing Skill Bias or Major Technological Change?," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 23(3), pages 609-648, July.
  12. Enrico Moretti, 2002. "Estimating the Social Return to Higher Education: Evidence From Longitudinal and Repeated Cross-Sectional Data," NBER Working Papers 9108, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  13. Susanto Basu & David N. Weil, 1996. "Appropriate Technology and Growth," NBER Working Papers 5865, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  14. 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.
  15. David Card, 1993. "Using Geographic Variation in College Proximity to Estimate the Return to Schooling," NBER Working Papers 4483, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  16. Card, David, 1999. "The causal effect of education on earnings," Handbook of Labor Economics, in: O. Ashenfelter & D. Card (ed.), Handbook of Labor Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 30, pages 1801-1863 Elsevier.
  17. Daron Acemoglu, 1998. "Why Do New Technologies Complement Skills? Directed Technical Change and Wage Inequality," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 113(4), pages 1055-1089.
  18. Paul Beaudry & David Green, 2000. "The Changing Structure of Wages in the US and Germany: What Explains the Differences?," NBER Working Papers 7697, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  19. Alan B. Krueger, 1991. "How Computers Have Changed the Wage Structure: Evidence From Microdata, 1984-1989," NBER Working Papers 3858, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  20. Comin, D. & Hobijn, B., 2004. "Cross-country technology adoption: making the theories face the facts," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 51(1), pages 39-83, January.
  21. Francesco Caselli, 1999. "Technological Revolutions," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(1), pages 78-102, March.
  22. 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.
  23. Jess Benhabib & Mark M. Spiegel, 2002. "Human capital and technology diffusion," Working Paper Series 2003-02, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco.
  24. Claudia Goldin & Kenneth Sokoloff, 1984. "The Relative Productivity Hypothesis of Industrialization: The American Case, 1820 to 1850," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 99(3), pages 461-487.
  25. Atkinson, Anthony B & Stiglitz, Joseph E, 1969. "A New View of Technological Change," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 79(315), pages 573-78, September.
  26. Paul Beaudry & David Green, 1998. "What is Driving US and Canadian Wages: Exogenous Technical Change or Endogenous Choice of Technique?," NBER Working Papers 6853, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  27. 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.
  28. Ethan Lewis, 2003. "Local, open economies within the U.S.: how do industries respond to immigration?," Working Papers 04-1, Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia.
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