IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/
MyIDEAS: Login to save this paper or follow this series

The effects of technical change on labor market inequalities

  • Andreas Hornstein
  • Per Krusell
  • Giovanni L. Violante

In this chapter we inspect economic mechanisms through which technological progress shapes the degree of inequality among workers in the labor market. A key focus is on the rise of U.S. wage inequality over the past 30 years. However, we also pay attention to how Europe did not experience changes in wage inequality but instead saw a sharp increase in unemployment and an increased labor share of income, variables that remained stable in the U.S. We hypothesize that these changes in labor market inequalities can be accounted for by the wave of capital-embodied technological change, which we also document. We propose a variety of mechanisms based on how technology increases the returns to education, ability, experience, and "luck" in the labor market. We also discuss how the wage distribution may have been indirectly influenced by technical change through changes in certain aspects of the organization of work, such as the hierarchical structure of firms, the extent of unionization, and the degree of centralization of bargaining. To account for the U.S.-Europe differences, we use a theory based on institutional differences between the United States and Europe, along with a common acceleration of technical change. Finally, we briefly comment on the implications of labor market inequalities for welfare and for economic policy.

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

File URL: http://www.richmondfed.org/publications/research/working_papers/2004/wp_04-8.cfm
Download Restriction: no

File URL: http://www.richmondfed.org/publications/research/working_papers/2004/pdf/wp04-8.pdf
Download Restriction: no

Paper provided by Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond in its series Working Paper with number 04-08.

as
in new window

Length:
Date of creation: 2004
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:fip:fedrwp:04-08
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.richmondfed.org/

More information through EDIRC

Order Information: Web: http://www.richmondfed.org/publications/ Email:


References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:

as in new window
  1. Stephen Machin, 2000. "Union Decline in Britain," British Journal of Industrial Relations, London School of Economics, vol. 38(4), pages 631-645, December.
  2. David Thesmar & Mathias Thoenig, 2000. "Creative Destruction and Firm Organization Choice," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 115(4), pages 1201-1237.
  3. Elhanan Helpman & Antonio Rangel, 1998. "Adjusting to a New Technology: Experience and Training," NBER Working Papers 6551, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Chinhui Juhn, 1992. "Decline of Male Labor Market Participation: The Role of Declining Market Opportunities," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 107(1), pages 79-121.
  5. Haider, S.J., 2000. "Earnings Instability and Earnings Inequality of Males in the United States: 1967-1991," Papers 00-15, RAND - Labor and Population Program.
  6. Patrick Bolton & Mathias Dewatripont, 1994. "The Firm as a Communication Network," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 109(4), pages 809-839.
  7. James Heckman, 2011. "Policies to foster human capital," Educational Studies, Higher School of Economics, issue 3, pages 73-137.
  8. Bartel, Ann P & Sicherman, Nachum, 1998. "Technological Change and the Skill Acquisition of Young Workers," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 16(4), pages 718-55, October.
  9. Jason G. Cummins & Giovanni L. Violante, 2002. "Investment-specific technical change in the US (1947-2000): measurement and macroeconomics consequences," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2002-10, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  10. Hans Hansen, 1998. "Transition from unemployment benefits to social assistance in seven European OECD countries," Empirical Economics, Springer, vol. 23(1/2), pages 5-30.
  11. David Card, 2001. "The Effect of Unions on Wage Inequality in the U.S. Labor Market," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 54(2), pages 296-315, January.
  12. Bentollia, S. & Saint-Paul, G., 1999. "Explaining Movements in the Labor Share," Papers 9905, Centro de Estudios Monetarios Y Financieros-.
  13. Bartel, Ann P & Lichtenberg, Frank R, 1987. "The Comparative Advantage of Educated Workers in Implementing New Technology," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 69(1), pages 1-11, February.
  14. Krueger, Dirk & Perri, Fabrizio, 2005. "Does income inequality lead to consumption inequality? Evidence and theory," CFS Working Paper Series 2005/15, Center for Financial Studies (CFS).
  15. ., 1994. "Firm, Theoru of the (II)," Chapters, in: The Elgar Companion to Institutional and Evolutionary Economics, chapter 45 Edward Elgar Publishing.
  16. Raghuram Rajan & Julie Wulf, 2003. "The Flattening Firm: Evidence from Panel Data on the Changing Nature of Corporate Hierarchies," NBER Working Papers 9633, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  17. Hulten, Charles R, 1992. "Growth Accounting When Technical Change Is Embodied in Capital," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 82(4), pages 964-80, September.
  18. Cohen, Daniel, 1999. "Welfare differentials across French and US labor markets $e_A general equilibrium interpretation," CEPREMAP Working Papers (Couverture Orange) 9904, CEPREMAP.
  19. Borghans,Lex & Weel,Bas,ter, 2003. "The Diffusion of Computers and the Distribution of Wages," ROA Research Memorandum 003, Maastricht University, Research Centre for Education and the Labour Market (ROA).
  20. Trajtenberg, M. & Bresnahan, T.F., 1992. "General Purpose Technologies: "Engines of Growth"," Papers 16-92, Tel Aviv.
  21. David Neumark, 2000. "Changes in Job Stability and Job Security: A Collective Effort to Untangle, Reconcile, and Interpret the Evidence," NBER Working Papers 7472, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  22. Erik Brynjolfsson & Lorin M. Hitt, 2000. "Beyond Computation: Information Technology, Organizational Transformation and Business Performance," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 14(4), pages 23-48, Fall.
  23. ., 1994. "Firm, Boundaries of the," Chapters, in: The Elgar Companion to Institutional and Evolutionary Economics, chapter 43 Edward Elgar Publishing.
  24. Costas Meghir & Luigi Pistaferri, 2001. "Income variance dynamics and heterogenity," IFS Working Papers W01/07, Institute for Fiscal Studies.
  25. Ingram, Beth & Neumann, George, 1999. "An Analysis of the Evolution of the Skill Premium," Working Papers 99-08, University of Iowa, Department of Economics.
  26. Gould, Eric D. & Paserman, M. Daniele, 2003. "Waiting for Mr. Right: rising inequality and declining marriage rates," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 53(2), pages 257-281, March.
  27. Katz, Lawrence F. & Autor, David H., 1999. "Changes in the wage structure and earnings inequality," Handbook of Labor Economics, in: O. Ashenfelter & D. Card (ed.), Handbook of Labor Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 26, pages 1463-1555 Elsevier.
  28. Dirk Krueger & Krishna B. Kumar, 2003. "Skill-specific rather then General Education: A Reason for US-Europe Growth Differences?," NBER Working Papers 9408, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  29. Irwin, Douglas A & Klenow, Peter J, 1994. "Learning-by-Doing Spillovers in the Semiconductor Industry," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 102(6), pages 1200-1227, December.
  30. Narayana Kocherlakota, 2010. "Implications of Efficient Risk Sharing Without Commitment," Levine's Working Paper Archive 2053, David K. Levine.
  31. Dinardo, J. & Fortin, N.M. & Lemieux, T., 1994. "Labor Market Institutions and the Distribution of Wages, 1973-1992: a Semiparametric Approach," Cahiers de recherche 9406, Universite de Montreal, Departement de sciences economiques.
  32. repec:fth:prinin:306 is not listed on IDEAS
  33. William T. Dickens & Jonathan S. Leonard, 1985. "Accounting for the decline in union membership, 1950û1980," Industrial and Labor Relations Review, ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 38(3), pages 323-334, April.
  34. Oded Galor & Omer Moav, 1998. "Ability Biased Technological Transition, Wage Inequality, and Economic Growth," Working Papers 98-14, Brown University, Department of Economics.
  35. Stephen D. Oliner & Daniel E. Sichel, 2000. "The Resurgence of Growth in the Late 1990s: Is Information Technology the Story?," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 14(4), pages 3-22, Fall.
  36. Shouyong Shi, 2002. "A Directed Search Model of Inequality with Heterogeneous Skills and Skill-Biased Technology," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 69(2), pages 467-491.
  37. Comin, D. & Mulani, S., 2003. "Diverging Trends in Macro and Micro Volatility: Facts," Working Papers 03-08, C.V. Starr Center for Applied Economics, New York University.
  38. Gilles Duranton, 1998. "The Economics of Productive Systems: Segmentation and Skill-Biased Change," CEP Discussion Papers dp0398, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
  39. Mathias Dewatripont & Patrick Bolton, 1996. "The firm as a communication network," ULB Institutional Repository 2013/9597, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
  40. 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.
  41. Michael Kremer & Eric Maskin, 1996. "Wage Inequality and Segregation by Skill," NBER Working Papers 5718, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  42. Andreas Hornstein & Per Krusell, 1996. "Can Technology Improvements Cause Productivity Slowdowns?," NBER Chapters, in: NBER Macroeconomics Annual 1996, Volume 11, pages 209-276 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  43. Paul Segerstrom & Elias Dinopoulos, 1999. "A Schumpeterian Model of Protection and Relative Wages," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(3), pages 450-472, June.
  44. Karnit Flug & Zvi Hercowitz, 2000. "Equipment Investment and the Relative Demand for Skilled Labor: International Evidence," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 3(3), pages 461-485, July.
  45. David Card & John E. DiNardo, 2002. "Skill Biased Technological Change and Rising Wage Inequality: Some Problems and Puzzles," NBER Working Papers 8769, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  46. William T. Dickens & Jonathan S. Leonard, 1985. "Accounting for the Decline in Union Membership, 1950–1980," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 38(3), pages 323-334, April.
  47. Dale T. Mortensen & Christopher A. Pissarides, 1998. "Technological Progress, Job Creation and Job Destruction," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 1(4), pages 733-753, October.
  48. Attanasio, Orazio & Davis, Steven J, 1996. "Relative Wage Movements and the Distribution of Consumption," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 104(6), pages 1227-62, December.
  49. Michael T. Kiley, 1997. "The supply of skilled labor and skill-based technological progress," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 1997-45, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  50. Henry S. Farber & Bruce Western, 2000. "Round Up The Usual Suspects: The Decline of Unions in The Private Sector, 1973-1998," Working Papers 816, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
  51. Sattinger, Michael, 1995. "Search and the Efficient Assignment of Workers to Jobs," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 36(2), pages 283-302, May.
  52. Krueger, Dirk & Perri, Fabrizio, 2002. "Does Income Inequality Lead to Consumption Inequality?," CEPR Discussion Papers 3583, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  53. Charles R. Hulten, 1992. "Growth Accounting When Technical Change is Embodied in Capital," NBER Working Papers 3971, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  54. Saint-Paul, Gilles, 1999. "On the Distribution of Income and Worker Assignment under Intra-Firm Spillovers, with an Application to Ideas And Networks," CEPR Discussion Papers 2290, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  55. Blau, Francine D & Kahn, Lawrence M, 1997. "Swimming Upstream: Trends in the Gender Wage Differential in 1980s," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 15(1), pages 1-42, January.
  56. repec:idb:brikps:5878 is not listed on IDEAS
  57. Giovanni L. Violante, 2002. "Technological Acceleration, Skill Transferability, and the Rise in Residual Inequality," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 117(1), pages 297-338.
  58. Richard Rogerson, 2004. "Two Views on the Deterioration of European Labor Market Outcomes," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 2(2-3), pages 447-455, 04/05.
  59. Iversen, Torben, 1998. "Wage Bargaining, Central Bank Independence, and the Real Effects of Money," International Organization, Cambridge University Press, vol. 52(03), pages 469-504, June.
  60. David Thesmar & Mathias Thoenig, 2000. "Creative Destruction and Firm Organization Choice," Université Paris1 Panthéon-Sorbonne (Post-Print and Working Papers) hal-00485579, HAL.
  61. Becker, Gary S, 1973. "A Theory of Marriage: Part I," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 81(4), pages 813-46, July-Aug..
  62. Paul Beaudry & David A. Green, 2003. "Wages and Employment in the United States and Germany: What Explains the Differences?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(3), pages 573-602, June.
  63. 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.
  64. repec:ucp:bknber:9780226304557 is not listed on IDEAS
  65. Donghoon Lee & Kenneth I. Wolpin, 2006. "Intersectoral Labor Mobility and the Growth of the Service Sector," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 74(1), pages 1-46, 01.
  66. Daron Acemoglu, 1999. "Changes in Unemployment and Wage Inequality: An Alternative Theory and Some Evidence," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(5), pages 1259-1278, December.
  67. Daron Acemoglu, 2003. "Labor- And Capital-Augmenting Technical Change," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 1(1), pages 1-37, 03.
  68. ., 1994. "Firm, Theoru of the (I)," Chapters, in: The Elgar Companion to Institutional and Evolutionary Economics, chapter 44 Edward Elgar Publishing.
  69. anonymous, 1994. "Research confirms rationality of analysts' forecasts," Economics Update, Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, issue Apr, pages 2.
  70. Christopher A. Pissarides, 2000. "Equilibrium Unemployment Theory, 2nd Edition," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262161877, March.
  71. Robert J. Gordon, 1990. "The Measurement of Durable Goods Prices," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number gord90-1, March.
  72. Olivier Blanchard & Justin Wolfers, 1999. "The Role of Shocks and Institutions in the Rise of European Unemployment: The Aggregate Evidence," NBER Working Papers 7282, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  73. Lawrence F. Katz & Kevin M. Murphy, 1992. "Changes in Relative Wages, 1963–1987: Supply and Demand Factors," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 107(1), pages 35-78.
  74. Karnit Flug & Zvi Hercowitz, 1996. "Equipment Investment and the Relative Demand for Skilled Labor: International Evidence," Research Department Publications 4042, .
  75. Claudia Goldin & Robert A. Margo, 1992. "The Great Compression: The Wage Structure in the United States at Mid-Century," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 107(1), pages 1-34.
  76. Huggett, Mark, 1996. "Wealth distribution in life-cycle economies," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 38(3), pages 469-494, December.
  77. Aghion, Philippe, 2002. "Schumpeterian Growth Theory and the Dynamics of Income Inequality," Scholarly Articles 3350067, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  78. Matthew F. Mitchell, 2005. "Specialization And The Skill Premium In The 20th Century," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 46(3), pages 935-955, 08.
  79. Malkiel, Burton & Campbell, John & Lettau, Martin & Xu, Yexiao, 2001. "Have Individual Stocks Become More Volatile? An Empirical Exploration of Idiosyncratic Risk," Scholarly Articles 3128707, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  80. Levy, Frank & Murnane, Richard J, 1992. "U.S. Earnings Levels and Earnings Inequality: A Review of Recent Trends and Proposed Explanations," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 30(3), pages 1333-81, September.
  81. Dirk Krueger & Fabrizio Perri, 2004. "On the Welfare Consequences of the Increase in Inequality in the United States," NBER Chapters, in: NBER Macroeconomics Annual 2003, Volume 18, pages 83-138 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  82. Freeman, Richard B, 1988. "Contraction and Expansion: The Divergence of Private Sector and Public Sector Unionism in the United States," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 2(2), pages 63-88, Spring.
  83. Christopher J. Flinn, 2002. "Labour Market Structure and Inequality: A Comparison of Italy and the U.S," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 69(3), pages 611-645.
  84. Rodolfo E. Manuelli, 2000. "Technological Change, the Labor Market and the Stock Market," NBER Working Papers 8022, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  85. Philippe Aghion, 2002. "Schumpeterian Growth Theory and the Dynamics of Income Inequality," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 70(3), pages 855-882, May.
  86. Dooley, Martin D & Gottschalk, Peter, 1984. "Earnings Inequality among Males in the United States: Trends and the Effect of Labor Force Growth," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 92(1), pages 59-89, February.
  87. 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, Oxford University Press, vol. 117(1), pages 339-376.
  88. Card, David, 1996. "The Effect of Unions on the Structure of Wages: A Longitudinal Analysis," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 64(4), pages 957-79, July.
  89. Hyunbae Chun, 2003. "Information Technology and the Demand for Educated Workers: Disentangling the Impacts of Adoption versus Use," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 85(1), pages 1-8, February.
  90. Johnson, David & Shipp, Stephanie, 1997. "Trends in Inequality Using Consumption-Expenditures: The U.S. from 1960 to 1993," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 43(2), pages 133-52, June.
  91. Henry S. Farber & Bruce Western, 2002. "Ronald Reagan and the Politics of Declining Union Organization," British Journal of Industrial Relations, London School of Economics, vol. 40(3), pages 385-401, 09.
  92. Andreas Hornstein, 1999. "Growth accounting with technological revolutions," Economic Quarterly, Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond, issue Sum, pages 1-22.
  93. David Card & Thomas Lemieux, 2001. "Can Falling Supply Explain the Rising Return to College for Younger Men? A Cohort-Based Analysis," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 116(2), pages 705-746.
  94. 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.
  95. David, Paul A, 1990. "The Dynamo and the Computer: An Historical Perspective on the Modern Productivity Paradox," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 80(2), pages 355-61, May.
  96. King, Ian & Welling, Linda, 1995. "Search, unemployment, and growth," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 35(3), pages 499-507, June.
  97. Claudia Goldin & Lawrence F. Katz, 1999. "The Returns to Skill in the United States across the Twentieth Century," NBER Working Papers 7126, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  98. Hall, Robert E, 1973. "The Specification of Technology with Several Kinds of Output," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 81(4), pages 878-92, July-Aug..
  99. Bahk, Byong-Hong & Gort, Michael, 1993. "Decomposing Learning by Doing in New Plants," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 101(4), pages 561-83, August.
  100. Thomas Piketty & Emmanuel Saez, 2003. "Income Inequality in the United States, 1913–1998," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 118(1), pages 1-41.
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:fip:fedrwp:04-08. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (William Perkins)

If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.