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Technology and Labor Regulations

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  • Alberto Alesina
  • Joseph Zeira

Abstract

Many low skilled jobs have been substituted away for machines in Europe, or eliminated, much more so than in the US, while technological progress at the "top", i.e. at the high-tech sector, is faster in the US than in Europe. This paper suggests that the main difference between Europe and the US in this respect is their different labor market policies. European countries reduce wage flexibility and inequality through a host of labor market regulations, like binding minimum wage laws, permanent unemployment subsidies, firing costs, etc. Such policies create incentives to develop and adopt labor saving capital intensive technologies at the low end of the skill distribution. At the same time technical change in the US is more skill biased than in Europe, since American skilled wages are higher. In the last few years some partial labor market reforms in Europe may have started to slow down or even reverse this trend.

Suggested Citation

  • Alberto Alesina & Joseph Zeira, 2006. "Technology and Labor Regulations," NBER Working Papers 12581, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:12581
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Nidhiya Menon, 2010. "Got Technology? The Impact of Computers and Cell-phones on Productivity in a Difficult Business Climate: Evidence from Firms with Female Owners in Kenya," Working Papers 21, Brandeis University, Department of Economics and International Businesss School.
    2. Lorenzo Cappellari & Carlo Dell’Aringa & Marco Leonardi, 2012. "Temporary Employment, Job Flows and Productivity: A Tale of Two Reforms," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 122(562), pages 188-215, August.
    3. Daron Acemoglu, 2010. "When Does Labor Scarcity Encourage Innovation?," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 118(6), pages 1037-1078.
    4. Nidhiya Menon, 2010. "Obstacles to Business, Technology Use, and Firms with Female Principal Owners in Kenya," Working Papers 20, Brandeis University, Department of Economics and International Businesss School.
    5. Federico Cingano & Marco Leonardi & Julián Messina & Giovanni Pica, 2010. "The effects of employment protection legislation and financial market imperfections on investment: evidence from a firm-level panel of EU countries," Economic Policy, CEPR;CES;MSH, vol. 25, pages 117-163, January.
    6. Binyamin Berdugo & Sharon Hadad, 2008. "How Do Firing Costs Affect Innovation and Growth when Workers' Ability is Unknown? – Employment Protection as a Burden on a Firm's Screening Process," DEGIT Conference Papers c013_004, DEGIT, Dynamics, Economic Growth, and International Trade.
    7. Armanda Cetrulo & Valeria Cirillo & Dario Guarascio, 2018. "Weaker jobs, weaker innovation. Exploring the temporary employment-product innovation nexus," LEM Papers Series 2018/06, Laboratory of Economics and Management (LEM), Sant'Anna School of Advanced Studies, Pisa, Italy.
    8. Zsófia L. Bárány, 2016. "The Minimum Wage and Inequality: The Effects of Education and Technology," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 34(1), pages 237-274.
    9. Berdugo, Binyamin & Hadad, Sharon, 2008. "How Do Firing Costs Affect Innovation and Growth when Workers' Ability is Unknown? – Employment Protection as a Burden on a Firm's Screening Process," MPRA Paper 11410, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    10. Bental, Benjamin & Demougin, Dominique, 2010. "Declining labor shares and bargaining power: An institutional explanation," Journal of Macroeconomics, Elsevier, vol. 32(1), pages 443-456, March.
    11. Barbosa, Natália & Faria, Ana Paula, 2011. "Innovation across Europe: How important are institutional differences?," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 40(9), pages 1157-1169.
    12. Amin, Mohammad, 2009. "Are labor regulations driving computer usage in India's retail stores?," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 102(1), pages 45-48, January.
    13. Binyamin Berdugo & Sharon Hadad, 2008. "How Do Firing Costs Affect Innovation And Growth When Workers’ Ability Is Unknown – Employment Protection As A Burden On A Firm’S Screening Process," Working Papers 0812, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Department of Economics.
    14. Paulo G. Correa & Ana M. Fernandes & Chris J. Uregian, 2010. "Technology Adoption and the Investment Climate: Firm-Level Evidence for Eastern Europe and Central Asia," World Bank Economic Review, World Bank Group, vol. 24(1), pages 121-147, January.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • O3 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights
    • O4 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Growth and Aggregate Productivity

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