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Capital-Skill Complementarity and Rigid Relative Wages

  • Skaksen, Jan Rose

    (Department of Economics, Copenhagen Business School)

  • Sørensen , Anders

    (Department of Economics, Copenhagen Business School)

The relative demand for skills has increased considerably in many OECD countries during recent decades. This development is potentially explained by capital-skill complementarity and high growth rates of capital equipment. When production functions are characterized by capital-skill complementarity, relative wages and employment of skilled labor are countercyclical because capital equipment is a quasi-fixed factor in the short run. The exact behavior of the two variables depends on relative wage flexibility. Relative wages are rigid in Denmark, implying that the employment share of skills should be countercyclical. The labor market is competitive in the United States and therefore relative wages of skilled labor are expected to be countercyclical. We find that the business cycle development of the two economies is consistent with capital-skill complementarity.

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File URL: http://openarchive.cbs.dk/cbsweb/handle/10398/7537
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Paper provided by Copenhagen Business School, Department of Economics in its series Working Papers with number 10-2004.

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Length: 30 pages
Date of creation: 08 Sep 2006
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:hhs:cbsnow:2004_010
Contact details of provider: Postal: Department of Economics, Copenhagen Business School, Solbjerg Plads 3 C, 5. sal, DK-2000 Frederiksberg, Denmark
Phone: 38 15 25 75
Fax: 38 15 34 99
Web page: http://www.cbs.dk/departments/econ/
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  1. Stephen Machin & John Van Reenen, 1998. "Technology and changes in skill structure: evidence from seven OECD countries," IFS Working Papers W98/04, Institute for Fiscal Studies.
  2. Nickell, Stephen & Bell, Brian, 1996. "Changes in the Distribution of Wages and Unemployment in OECD Countries," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 86(2), pages 302-08, May.
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  11. Per Krusell & Lee E. Ohanian & Jose-Victor Rios-Rull & Giovanni L. Violante, 1997. "Capital-skill complementarity and inequality: a macroeconomic analysis," Staff Report 239, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  12. 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.
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