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Technology and industrial agglomeration: evidence from computer usage

  • Christopher H. Wheeler

Although the association between industrial agglomeration and productivity has been widely examined and documented, little work has explored the possibility that these `external' productivity shifts are the product of more advanced technologies. This paper offers a look at this hypothesis using data on individual-level computer usage across a sample of U.S. metropolitan areas over the years 1984, 1989, 1993, and 1997. The results indicate that, for a wide array of industries at the two-, three-, and four-digit SIC level, an industry's scale within a metropolitan area is positively associated with the frequency of computer use by its workers. However, in spite of these observable differences in workplace technology, I also find that estimated localization effects on wages are largely not explained by computer usage. Even after controlling for computer use, there remain significant own-industry scale effects in labor earnings.

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Paper provided by Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis in its series Working Papers with number 2005-016.

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Date of creation: 2005
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Handle: RePEc:fip:fedlwp:2005-016
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  1. Kevin J. Stiroh, 2001. "Information technology and the U.S. productivity revival: what do the industry data say?," Staff Reports 115, Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
  2. 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.
  3. Robert J. Gordon, 2000. "Does the "New Economy" Measure Up to the Great Inventions of the Past?," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 14(4), pages 49-74, Fall.
  4. Thomas J. Holmes & John J. Stevens, 2002. "Geographic Concentration and Establishment Scale," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 84(4), pages 682-690, November.
  5. Dinardo, J.E. & Pischke, J.S., 1996. "The Returns to Computer Use Revisited: Have Pencils Changed the Wage Structure Too?," Working papers 96-12, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
  6. Daron Acemoglu, 2000. "Technical Change, Inequality, and the Labor Market," NBER Working Papers 7800, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  8. Alberto F. Ades & Edward L. Glaeser, 1994. "Evidence on Growth, Increasing Returns and the Extent of the Market," NBER Working Papers 4714, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. James E. Rauch, 1991. "Productivity Gains From Geographic Concentration of human Capital: Evidence From the Cities," NBER Working Papers 3905, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Timothy F. Bresnahan & Erik Brynjolfsson & Lorin M. Hitt, 2002. "Information Technology, Workplace Organization, And The Demand For Skilled Labor: Firm-Level Evidence," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 117(1), pages 339-376, February.
  11. Sandra E. Black & Lisa M. Lynch, 1997. "How to Compete: The Impact of Workplace Practices and Information Technology on Productivity," NBER Working Papers 6120, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. Edward Glaeser, 1997. "Learning in Cities," NBER Working Papers 6271, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  13. Doms, Mark & Dunne, Timothy & Troske, Kenneth R, 1997. "Workers, Wages, and Technology," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 112(1), pages 253-90, February.
  14. Christopher H. Wheeler, 2004. "Productivity and the geographic concentration of industry: the role of plant scale," Working Papers 2004-024, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.
  15. Vernon Henderson, 2001. "Marshall's Scale Economies," Working Papers 01-17, Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau.
  16. Juhn, Chinhui & Murphy, Kevin M & Pierce, Brooks, 1993. "Wage Inequality and the Rise in Returns to Skill," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 101(3), pages 410-42, June.
  17. Timothy Dunne, 1994. "Plant Age and Technology Use in US. Manufacturing Industries," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 25(3), pages 488-499, Autumn.
  18. Henderson, J. Vernon, 1986. "Efficiency of resource usage and city size," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 19(1), pages 47-70, January.
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