IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/p/iza/izadps/dp7762.html
   My bibliography  Save this paper

The Skill Complementarity of Broadband Internet

Author

Listed:
  • Akerman, Anders

    (Stockholm University)

  • Gaarder, Ingvil

    (European University Institute)

  • Mogstad, Magne

    (University of Chicago)

Abstract

Does adoption of broadband internet in firms enhance labor productivity and increase wages? And is this technological change skill biased or factor neutral? We exploit rich Norwegian data with firm-level information on value added, factor inputs and broadband adoption to answer these questions. We estimate production functions where firms can change their technology by adopting broadband internet. A public program with limited funding rolled out broadband access points, and provides plausibly exogenous variation of broadband adoption in firms. This enables us to address endogeneity of broadband adoption and examine how it shifts the production technology and changes the productivity and labor outcomes of different types of workers. We find that broadband adoption favors skilled labor by increasing its relative productivity. The increase in productivity of skilled labor is especially large for college graduates in fields such as science, technology, engineering and business. By comparison, broadband internet is a substitute for workers without high school diploma, lowering their marginal productivity. Consistent with the estimated changes in labor productivity, wage regressions show the expansion of broadband internet improves (worsens) the labor outcomes of skilled (unskilled) workers. We explore several possible explanations for the skill bias of broadband internet. We find suggestive evidence that broadband internet complements skilled workers in executing nonroutine abstract tasks, and substitutes for unskilled workers in performing routine tasks. When we use our production function estimates to construct measures of firm level productivity, we find that broadband internet accounts for a few percent of the standard deviation in total factor productivity across firms. Taken together, our findings have important implications for the ongoing policy debate over government investment in broadband infrastructure to encourage productivity and wage growth.

Suggested Citation

  • Akerman, Anders & Gaarder, Ingvil & Mogstad, Magne, 2013. "The Skill Complementarity of Broadband Internet," IZA Discussion Papers 7762, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp7762
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: https://docs.iza.org/dp7762.pdf
    Download Restriction: no
    ---><---

    Other versions of this item:

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Nicholas Bloom & Luis Garicano & Raffaella Sadun & John Van Reenen, 2014. "The Distinct Effects of Information Technology and Communication Technology on Firm Organization," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 60(12), pages 2859-2885, December.
    2. Guy Michaels & Ashwini Natraj & John Van Reenen, 2010. "Has ICT Polarized Skill Demand? Evidence from Eleven Countries over 25 years," NBER Working Papers 16138, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Nina Pavcnik, 2002. "Trade Liberalization, Exit, and Productivity Improvements: Evidence from Chilean Plants," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 69(1), pages 245-276.
    4. Ilke Van Beveren, 2012. "Total Factor Productivity Estimation: A Practical Review," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 26(1), pages 98-128, February.
    5. Alan B. Krueger, 1993. "How Computers Have Changed the Wage Structure: Evidence from Microdata, 1984–1989," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 108(1), pages 33-60.
    6. Sandra E. Black & Alexandra Spitz-Oener, 2010. "Explaining Women's Success: Technological Change and the Skill Content of Women's Work," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 92(1), pages 187-194, February.
    7. Chad Syverson, 2011. "What Determines Productivity?," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 49(2), pages 326-365, June.
    8. David H. Autor & Frank Levy & Richard J. Murnane, 2003. "The skill content of recent technological change: an empirical exploration," Proceedings, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, issue Nov.
    9. Timothy F. Bresnahan & Erik Brynjolfsson & Lorin M. Hitt, 2002. "Information Technology, Workplace Organization, and the Demand for Skilled Labor: Firm-Level Evidence," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 117(1), pages 339-376.
    10. Maarten Goos & Alan Manning, 2007. "Lousy and Lovely Jobs: The Rising Polarization of Work in Britain," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 89(1), pages 118-133, February.
    11. Chris Forman & Avi Goldfarb & Shane Greenstein, 2012. "The Internet and Local Wages: A Puzzle," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 102(1), pages 556-575, February.
    12. Firpo, Sergio & Fortin, Nicole M. & Lemieux, Thomas, 2011. "Occupational Tasks and Changes in the Wage Structure," IZA Discussion Papers 5542, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    13. Eli Berman, 2000. "Does Factor-Biased Technological Change Stifle International Covergence? Evidence from Manufacturing," NBER Working Papers 7964, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    14. Erik Brynjolfsson & Lorin M. Hitt, 2003. "Computing Productivity: Firm-Level Evidence," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 85(4), pages 793-808, November.
    15. Eli Berman & John Bound & Zvi Griliches, 1993. "Changes in the Demand for Skilled Labor within U.S. Manufacturing Industries: Evidence from the Annual Survey of Manufacturing," NBER Working Papers 4255, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    16. Paul Beaudry & Mark Doms & Ethan Lewis, 2010. "Should the Personal Computer Be Considered a Technological Revolution? Evidence from U.S. Metropolitan Areas," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 118(5), pages 988-1036.
    17. Erling Barth & Bernt Bratsberg & Torbjørn Hægeland & Oddbjørn Raaum, 2008. "Performance Pay and Within-Firm Wage Inequality," Discussion Papers 535, Statistics Norway, Research Department.
    18. Eli Berman & John Bound & Zvi Griliches, 1994. "Changes in the Demand for Skilled Labor within U. S. Manufacturing: Evidence from the Annual Survey of Manufactures," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 109(2), pages 367-397.
    19. Stephen Machin & John Van Reenen, 1998. "Technology and Changes in Skill Structure: Evidence from Seven OECD Countries," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 113(4), pages 1215-1244.
    20. Eve Caroli & John Van Reenen, 2001. "Skill-Biased Organizational Change? Evidence from A Panel of British and French Establishments," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 116(4), pages 1449-1492.
    21. John E. DiNardo & Jörn-Steffen Pischke, 1997. "The Returns to Computer Use Revisited: Have Pencils Changed the Wage Structure Too?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 112(1), pages 291-303.
    22. Jeremy T. Fox & Valérie Smeets, 2011. "Does Input Quality Drive Measured Differences In Firm Productivity?," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 52(4), pages 961-989, November.
    23. James Levinsohn & Amil Petrin, 2003. "Estimating Production Functions Using Inputs to Control for Unobservables," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 70(2), pages 317-341.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Most related items

    These are the items that most often cite the same works as this one and are cited by the same works as this one.
    1. Jonas Hjort & Jonas Poulsen, 2019. "The Arrival of Fast Internet and Employment in Africa," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 109(3), pages 1032-1079, March.
    2. Van Reenen, John, 2011. "Wage inequality, technology and trade: 21st century evidence," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 18(6), pages 730-741.
    3. Thor Berger & Carl Benedikt Frey, 2016. "Structural Transformation in the OECD: Digitalisation, Deindustrialisation and the Future of Work," OECD Social, Employment and Migration Working Papers 193, OECD Publishing.
    4. Irene Brambilla, 2018. "Digital Technology Adoption and Jobs: A Model of Firm Heterogeneity," Department of Economics, Working Papers 117, Departamento de Economía, Facultad de Ciencias Económicas, Universidad Nacional de La Plata.
    5. Paul Gaggl & Greg C. Wright, 2017. "A Short-Run View of What Computers Do: Evidence from a UK Tax Incentive," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 9(3), pages 262-294, July.
    6. Falck, Oliver & Heimisch-Roecker, Alexandra & Wiederhold, Simon, 2021. "Returns to ICT skills," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 50(7).
    7. Ariell Reshef, 2013. "Is Technological Change Biased Towards the Unskilled in Services? An Empirical Investigation," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 16(2), pages 312-331, April.
    8. Irene Brambilla, 2018. "Digital Technology Adoption and Jobs: A Model of Firm Heterogeneity," IIE, Working Papers 117, IIE, Universidad Nacional de La Plata.
    9. Fonseca, Tiago & Lima, Francisco & Pereira, Sonia C., 2018. "Understanding productivity dynamics: A task taxonomy approach," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 47(1), pages 289-304.
    10. Fonseca, Tiago & Lima, Francisco & Pereira, Sonia C., 2018. "Job polarization, technological change and routinization: Evidence for Portugal," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 51(C), pages 317-339.
    11. Harrigan, James & Reshef, Ariell & Toubal, Farid, 2021. "The March of the Techies: Job Polarization Within and Between Firms," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 50(7).
    12. Borghans, Lex & Weel, Bas ter, 2001. "What happens when agent T gets a computer?," Research Memorandum 017, Maastricht University, Maastricht Economic Research Institute on Innovation and Technology (MERIT).
    13. Francis Green, 2012. "Employee Involvement, Technology and Evolution in Job Skills: A Task-Based Analysis," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 65(1), pages 36-67, January.
    14. David B. Audretsch & Mark Sanders, 2007. "Globalization and the Rise of the Entrepreneurial Economy," Jena Economic Research Papers 2007-003, Friedrich-Schiller-University Jena.
    15. Guy Michaels & Ashwini Natraj & John Van Reenen, 2010. "Has ICT Polarized Skill Demand? Evidence from Eleven Countries over 25 years," NBER Working Papers 16138, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    16. 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.
    17. Stephen Machin & John Van Reenen, 2007. "Changes in Wage Inequality," CEP Special Papers 18, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
    18. Cortes, Guido Matias & Salvatori, Andrea, 2019. "Delving into the demand side: Changes in workplace specialization and job polarization," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 57(C), pages 164-176.
    19. Maarten Goos & Melanie Arntz & Ulrich Zierahn & Terry Gregory & Stephanie Carretero Gomez & Ignacio Gonzalez Vazquez & Koen Jonkers, 2019. "The Impact of Technological Innovation on the Future of Work," JRC Working Papers on Labour, Education and Technology 2019-03, Joint Research Centre (Seville site).
    20. Nancy L. Stokey, 2018. "Technology and Skill: Twin Engines of Growth," NBER Working Papers 24570, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    broadband internet; labor productivity; tasks; technological change; skill bias;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • J23 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Labor Demand
    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity
    • J31 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Wage Level and Structure; Wage Differentials
    • O33 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Technological Change: Choices and Consequences; Diffusion Processes

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp7762. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: . General contact details of provider: https://edirc.repec.org/data/izaaade.html .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a bibliographic reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: Holger Hinte (email available below). General contact details of provider: https://edirc.repec.org/data/izaaade.html .

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.