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Shifts and Twists in the Relative Productivity of Skilled Labor

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  • Dupuy, Arnaud

    () (University of Luxembourg)

  • Marey, Philip S.

    () (Maastricht University)

Abstract

Skill-biased technical change is usually interpreted in terms of the efficiency parameters of skilled and unskilled labor. This implies that the relative productivity of skilled workers changes proportionally in all tasks. In contrast, we argue that technical changes also affect the curvature of the distribution of relative productivity. Building on Rosen’s (1978) tasks assignment model, this implies that not only the efficiency parameters of skilled and unskilled workers change, but also the elasticity of substitution between skill-types of labor. Using data for the United States between 1963 and 2002, we find significant empirical support for a decrease in the elasticity of substitution at the end of the 70s followed by an increase at the beginning of the 90s. This pattern of the elasticity of substitution has contributed to the labor productivity slowdown in the mid 70s through the 80s and to a speedup in the 90s.

Suggested Citation

  • Dupuy, Arnaud & Marey, Philip S., 2007. "Shifts and Twists in the Relative Productivity of Skilled Labor," IZA Discussion Papers 2694, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp2694
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    2. Lex Borghans & Bas ter Weel, 2008. "Understanding the Technology of Computer Technology Diffusion: Explaining Computer Adoption Patterns and Implications for the Wage Structure," Journal of Income Distribution, Ad libros publications inc., vol. 17(3-4), pages 37-70, September.
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    4. Bas Straathof, 2006. "Schooling inequality and the rise of research," CPB Discussion Paper 74.rdf, CPB Netherlands Bureau for Economic Policy Analysis.
    5. Tomas Havranek & Zuzana Irsova & Lubica Laslopova & Olesia Zeynalova, 2020. "Skilled and Unskilled Labor Are Less Substitutable than Commonly Thought," Working Papers IES 2020/29, Charles University Prague, Faculty of Social Sciences, Institute of Economic Studies, revised Sep 2020.
    6. Cörvers, Frank & Dupuy, Arnaud, 2010. "Estimating employment dynamics across occupations and sectors of industry," Journal of Macroeconomics, Elsevier, vol. 32(1), pages 17-27, March.
    7. Arnaud Dupuy & Todd Sorensen, 2014. "On Input Market Frictions and Estimation of Factors' Demand," Southern Economic Journal, Southern Economic Association, vol. 80(3), pages 772-781, January.
    8. Lex Borghans & Bas ter Weel, 2008. "Understanding the Technology of Computer Technology Diffusion: Explaining Computer Adoption Patterns and Implications for the Wage Structure," Journal of Income Distribution, Ad libros publications inc., vol. 17(3-4), pages 37-70, September.
    9. Havranek, Tomas & Irsova, Zuzana & Laslopova, Lubica & Zeynalova, Olesia, 2020. "The Elasticity of Substitution between Skilled and Unskilled Labor: A Meta-Analysis," MPRA Paper 102598, University Library of Munich, Germany.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    cointegration and change in regime; SBTC; assignment; output growth;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • J20 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - General
    • J31 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Wage Level and Structure; Wage Differentials
    • O30 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - General
    • O40 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Growth and Aggregate Productivity - - - General

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