Technological Progress and Worker Productivity at Different Ages
Economists have long thought of technological progress as a primary determinant of rising living standards over time. One might think of technological progress as increasing the “effectiveness” of labor, thereby raising the amount of output that each unit of labor can produce. The purpose of this paper is to ask whether, as an empirical matter, technological progress increases the productivity of workers evenly, or whether it augments the effectiveness of young workers the most. As low birthrates and increases in longevity lead to an “aging” of the population, the productivity of older workers relative to younger workers is likely to become an ever more important issue. Analyzing data from the decennial Censuses and annual data from the Current Population Survey, this paper draws three tentative conclusions. First, we find that the “aging” of the U.S. work force seems more likely to increase aggregate productivity – by raising the proportion of laborers with sizable accumulations of human capital from experience – than to decrease it – by slowing the adoption rate for innovations. Our preliminary estimates imply that the latter effect is of modest magnitude. Second, since our preliminary estimates point to “general” rather than “specific” technological progress, each household faces a problem of having to predict the course of technological progress over its life span. This means that households face more risk than otherwise, and it complicates the specification of the life-cycle model that analysts should employ. Third, when we disaggregate across education groups, the groups show quite unequal benefits from technological progress after 1980, and this may lead to further challenges in modeling household behavior.
|Date of creation:||Dec 2005|
|Date of revision:|
|Contact details of provider:|| Postal: |
Phone: (734) 615-0422
Fax: (734) 647-4575
Web page: http://www.mrrc.isr.umich.edu/publications/papers/
More information through EDIRC
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
- Axel BÃ¶rsch-Supan, 2004. "Global Aging: Issues, Answers, More Questions," MEA discussion paper series 04055, Munich Center for the Economics of Aging (MEA) at the Max Planck Institute for Social Law and Social Policy.
- Becker, Gary S, 1974.
"A Theory of Social Interactions,"
Journal of Political Economy,
University of Chicago Press, vol. 82(6), pages 1063-93, Nov.-Dec..
- John Laitner, 2000. "Earnings within Education Groups and Overall Productivity Growth," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 108(4), pages 807-832, August.
- Johnson, William R, 1980. "Vintage Effects in the Earnings of White American Men," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 62(3), pages 399-407, August.
- Axel Börsch-Supan, 2004. "Global Aging: Issues, Answers, More Questions," Working Papers wp084, University of Michigan, Michigan Retirement Research Center.
- Burmeister, Edwin & Dobell, Rodney, 1969. "Disembodied technological change with several factors," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 1(1), pages 1-8, June.
- Modigliani, Franco, 1985.
"Life Cycle, Individual Thrift and the Wealth of Nations,"
Nobel Prize in Economics documents
1985-1, Nobel Prize Committee.
- Modigliani, Franco, 1986. "Life Cycle, Individual Thrift, and the Wealth of Nations," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 76(3), pages 297-313, June.
When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:mrr:papers:wp107. 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: (MRRC Administrator)
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.