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Do We Need Computer Skills to Use a Computer? Evidence from Britain


  • Borghans, Lex

    () (Maastricht University)

  • ter Weel, Bas

    () (SEO Amsterdam)


Using data from the 1997 Skills Survey of the Employed British Workforce, we examine the returns to computer skills in Britain. Many researchers, using information on computer use, have concluded that wage differentials between computer users and non-users might, among others, be due to differences in the embodiment of computer skills. Using unique information on the importance, level of sophistication and effectiveness of computer use, we show that computer skills do not yield significant labour market returns for most types of use. Examining the returns to computer skills at different levels of sophistication of use, yields estimates suggesting returns to computer skills at the highest level of sophistication of use only.

Suggested Citation

  • Borghans, Lex & ter Weel, Bas, 2003. "Do We Need Computer Skills to Use a Computer? Evidence from Britain," IZA Discussion Papers 685, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp685

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Roziah Mohd Rasdi & Thomas N. Garavan & Maimunah Ismail, 2011. "Understanding Proactive Behaviours and Career Success: Evidence from an Emerging Economy," Organizations and Markets in Emerging Economies, Faculty of Economics, Vilnius University, vol. 2(2).
    2. Cindy Zoghi & Sabrina Wulff Pabilonia, 2007. "Which workers gain upon adopting a computer?," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 40(2), pages 423-444, May.
    3. Marandino, Joaquin & Wunnava, Phanindra V., 2014. "The Effect of Access to Information and Communication Technology on Household Labor Income: Evidence from One Laptop Per Child in Uruguay," IZA Discussion Papers 8415, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    4. Chris N. Sakellariou & Harry A. Patrinos, 2004. "Technology, computers and wages: evidence from a developing economy," Brussels Economic Review, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles, vol. 47(3-4), pages 543-543.

    More about this item


    computerization; wage level and structure; wage inequality;

    JEL classification:

    • 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

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