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The Returns to Pencil Use Revisited

  • Spitz-Oener, Alexandra

    ()

    (Humboldt University Berlin)

The increased diffusion of computers is one of the fundamental changes at workplaces in recent decades. While the majority of workers now spend a substantial fraction of their working day with a computer, research on the wage effect of computer use effectively came to a halt after DiNardo and Pischke [1997] found that wages were also positively associated with pencil use, calling into question the ability to distinguish the effect of computers from other confounding factors. Using the same data set as DiNardo and Pischke, but a more recent wave, this paper revitalizes the discussion by showing that the pencil effect disappeared in 1998/99, whereas the computer effect is still present. Computer users – but not pencil users – have experienced a pronounced shift towards analytical and interactive tasks, for which they are rewarded in the workplace.

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Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 2729.

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Length: 39 pages
Date of creation: Apr 2007
Date of revision:
Publication status: published in: Industrial and Labor Relations Review, 2008, 61 (4), 502-517
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp2729
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  1. Alexandra Spitz-Oener, 2006. "Technical Change, Job Tasks, and Rising Educational Demands: Looking outside the Wage Structure," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 24(2), pages 235-270, April.
  2. Richard Blundell & Lorraine Dearden & Barbara Sianesi, 2003. "Evaluating the impact of education on earnings in the UK: Models, methods and results from the NCDS," IFS Working Papers W03/20, Institute for Fiscal Studies.
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  7. Makepeace, Gerry & Peter Dolton, 2003. "Computer use and earnings in Britain," Royal Economic Society Annual Conference 2003 146, Royal Economic Society.
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  11. 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.
  12. David H. Autor & Lawrence F. Katz & Melissa S. Kearney, 2005. "Trends in U. S. Wage Inequality: Re-Assessing the Revisionists," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 2095, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
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  15. 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.
  16. Brown, Charles & Medoff, James, 1989. "The Employer Size-Wage Effect," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 97(5), pages 1027-59, October.
  17. David H. Autor & Frank Levy & Richard J. Murnane, 2003. "The Skill Content Of Recent Technological Change: An Empirical Exploration," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 118(4), pages 1279-1333, November.
  18. David H. Autor & Lawrence F. Katz & Melissa S. Kearney, 2005. "Rising Wage Inequality: The Role of Composition and Prices," NBER Working Papers 11628, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  19. Brian D. Bell, . "Skill-Biased Technical Change and Wages: Evidence from a Longitudinal Data Se," Economics Papers W25., Economics Group, Nuffield College, University of Oxford.
  20. Entorf, Horst & Kramarz, Francis, 1997. "Does unmeasured ability explain the higher wages of new technology workers?," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 41(8), pages 1489-1509, August.
  21. Maarten Goos & Alan Manning, 2003. "Lousy and Lovely Jobs: the Rising Polarization of Work in Britain," CEP Discussion Papers dp0604, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
  22. Lucy Chennells & John Van Reenen, 1999. "Has technology hurt less skilled workers? A survey of the micro-econometric evidence," IFS Working Papers W99/27, Institute for Fiscal Studies.
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