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Technological Change, Relative Wages, and Unemployment

  • Joshua Aizenman
  • Pierre-Richard Agénor

This paper examines the effect of skill-biased technological change on the structure of wages, the composition of employment and the level of unemployment in a two-sector economy with a heterogenous work force. Efficiency wage considerations and minimum wage legislation lead to labor market segmentation. A technological shock that reduces the demand for unskilled labor and raises the demand for skilled labor in the primary, high-wage sector is shown to increase the relative wage of skilled workers and reduce aggregate employment as well as the employment level of unskilled workers in that sector. The net effect of the shock on the employment level of skilled workers is mitigated by the existence of efficiency factors.

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Paper provided by International Monetary Fund in its series IMF Working Papers with number 94/111.

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Length: 36
Date of creation: 01 Sep 1994
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:imf:imfwpa:94/111
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  1. David A. Brauer & Susan Hickok, 1995. "Explaining the growing inequality in wages across skill levels," Economic Policy Review, Federal Reserve Bank of New York, issue Jan, pages 61-75.
  2. Jacob Mincer, 1991. "Human Capital, Technology, and the Wage Structure: What Do Time Series Show?," NBER Working Papers 3581, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. 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.
  4. Chatrerji, Monojit & Sparks, Roger, 1991. "Real wages, productivity, and the cycle: An efficiency wage model," Journal of Macroeconomics, Elsevier, vol. 13(3), pages 495-510.
  5. Jeremy I. Bulow & Lawrence H. Summers, 1985. "A Theory of Dual Labor Markets with Application to Industrial Policy, Discrimination and Keynesian Unemployment," NBER Working Papers 1666, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Shapiro, Carl & Stiglitz, Joseph E, 1984. "Equilibrium Unemployment as a Worker Discipline Device," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 74(3), pages 433-44, June.
  7. Eswar Prasad, 1994. "The Canadian Labor Market; Developments, Prospects, and Policy," IMF Working Papers 94/97, International Monetary Fund.
  8. Pissarides, Christopher A. & Wadsworth, Jonathan, 1994. "On-the-job search: Some empirical evidence from Britain," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 38(2), pages 385-401, February.
  9. Dimitri G. Demekas, 1994. "Labor Market Institutions and Flexibility in Italy; A Critical Evaluation and Some International Comparisons," IMF Working Papers 94/30, International Monetary Fund.
  10. Bound, John & Johnson, George, 1992. "Changes in the Structure of Wages in the 1980's: An Evaluation of Alternative Explanations," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 82(3), pages 371-92, June.
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