IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/p/nbr/nberwo/16138.html
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Has ICT Polarized Skill Demand? Evidence from Eleven Countries over 25 years

Author

Listed:
  • Guy Michaels
  • Ashwini Natraj
  • John Van Reenen

Abstract

OECD labor markets have become more "polarized" with employment in the middle of the skill distribution falling relative to the top and (in recent years) also the bottom of the skill distribution. We test the hypothesis of Autor, Levy, and Murnane (2003) that this is partly due to information and communication technologies (ICT) complementing the analytical tasks primarily performed by highly educated workers and substituting for routine tasks generally performed by middle educated workers (with little effect on low educated workers performing manual non-routine tasks). Using industry level data on the US, Japan, and nine European countries 1980-2004 we find evidence consistent with ICT-based polarization. Industries with faster growth of ICT had greater increases in relative demand for high educated workers and bigger falls in relative demand for middle educated workers. Trade openness is also associated with polarization, but this is not robust to controls for technology (like R&D). Technologies can account for up to a quarter of the growth in demand for the college educated in the quarter century since 1980.

Suggested Citation

  • 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.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:16138
    Note: ITI LS PR
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w16138.pdf
    Download Restriction: no
    ---><---

    Other versions of this item:

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Dale W. Jorgenson & Mun S. Ho & Kevin J. Stiroh, 2008. "A Retrospective Look at the U.S. Productivity Growth Resurgence," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 22(1), pages 3-24, Winter.
    2. Nicholas Bloom & Mirko Draca & John Van Reenen, 2016. "Trade Induced Technical Change? The Impact of Chinese Imports on Innovation, IT and Productivity," The Review of Economic Studies, Review of Economic Studies Ltd, vol. 83(1), pages 87-117.
    3. DiNardo, John & Fortin, Nicole M & Lemieux, Thomas, 1996. "Labor Market Institutions and the Distribution of Wages, 1973-1992: A Semiparametric Approach," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 64(5), pages 1001-1044, September.
    4. Alan B. Krueger, 1993. "How Computers Have Changed the Wage Structure: Evidence from Microdata, 1984–1989," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, President and Fellows of Harvard College, vol. 108(1), pages 33-60.
    5. 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.
    6. David Card, 2009. "Immigration and Inequality," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 99(2), pages 1-21, May.
    7. Eli Berman & Rohini Somanathan & Hong W. Tan, 2010. "Is Skill-Biased Technological Change Here Yet? Evidence from Indian Manufacturing in the 1990s," NBER Chapters, in: Contributions in Memory of Zvi Griliches, pages 299-321, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    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. J.J. Heckman & E.E. Leamer (ed.), 2007. "Handbook of Econometrics," Handbook of Econometrics, Elsevier, edition 1, volume 6, number 6b.
    10. Robert C. Feenstra & Gordon H. Hanson, 1995. "Foreign Investment, Outsourcing and Relative Wages," NBER Working Papers 5121, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    11. 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.
    12. L. Rachel Ngai & Christopher A. Pissarides, 2007. "Structural Change in a Multisector Model of Growth," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 97(1), pages 429-443, March.
    13. Francesca Mazzolari & Giuseppe Ragusa, 2013. "Spillovers from High-Skill Consumption to Low-Skill Labor Markets," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 95(1), pages 74-86, March.
    14. Paul R. Krugman, 2008. "Trade and Wages, Reconsidered," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 39(1 (Spring), pages 103-154.
    15. 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).
    16. Mary O'Mahony & Marcel P. Timmer, 2009. "Output, Input and Productivity Measures at the Industry Level: The EU KLEMS Database," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 119(538), pages 374-403, June.
    17. Autor, David & Dorn, David, 2009. "Inequality and Specialization: The Growth of Low-Skill Service Jobs in the United States," IZA Discussion Papers 4290, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    18. Christian Dustmann & Johannes Ludsteck & Uta Schönberg, 2009. "Revisiting the German Wage Structure," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, President and Fellows of Harvard College, vol. 124(2), pages 843-881.
    19. repec:adr:anecst:y:2005:i:79-80:p:12 is not listed on IDEAS
    20. 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.
    21. J.J. Heckman & E.E. Leamer (ed.), 2007. "Handbook of Econometrics," Handbook of Econometrics, Elsevier, edition 1, volume 6, number 6a.
    22. 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, President and Fellows of Harvard College, vol. 109(2), pages 367-397.
    23. Timmer,Marcel P. & Inklaar,Robert & O'Mahony,Mary & Ark,Bart van, 2013. "Economic Growth in Europe," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9781107412446, November.
    24. Stephen Machin & John Van Reenen, 1998. "Technology and Changes in Skill Structure: Evidence from Seven OECD Countries," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, President and Fellows of Harvard College, vol. 113(4), pages 1215-1244.
    25. Daron Acemoglu, 2003. "Patterns of Skill Premia," The Review of Economic Studies, Review of Economic Studies Ltd, vol. 70(2), pages 199-230.
    26. Desjonqueres, Thibaut & Machin, Stephen & Van Reenen, John, 1999. "Another Nail in the Coffin? Or Can the Trade Based Explanation of Changing Skill Structures Be Resurrected?," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 101(4), pages 533-554, December.
    27. 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, President and Fellows of Harvard College, vol. 112(1), pages 291-303.
    28. Kiminori Matsuyama, 2007. "Beyond Icebergs: Towards a Theory of Biased Globalization," The Review of Economic Studies, Review of Economic Studies Ltd, vol. 74(1), pages 237-253.
    29. David H. Autor & Lawrence F. Katz & Alan B. Krueger, 1998. "Computing Inequality: Have Computers Changed the Labor Market?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, President and Fellows of Harvard College, vol. 113(4), pages 1169-1213.
    30. Thibaut Desjonqueres & Stephen Machin & John Van Reenen, 1999. "Another Nail in the Coffin? Or Can the Trade Based Explanation of Changing Skill Structures Be Resurrected?," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 101(4), pages 533-554, December.
    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. Van Reenen, John, 2011. "Wage inequality, technology and trade: 21st century evidence," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 18(6), pages 730-741.
    2. Anders Akerman & Ingvil Gaarder & Magne Mogstad, 2015. "The Skill Complementarity of Broadband Internet," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, President and Fellows of Harvard College, vol. 130(4), pages 1781-1824.
    3. 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.
    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. Falck, Oliver & Heimisch-Roecker, Alexandra & Wiederhold, Simon, 2021. "Returns to ICT skills," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 50(7).
    6. Ljubica Nedelkoska & Simon Wiederhold, 2010. "Technology, outsourcing, and the demand for heterogeneous labor: Exploring the industry dimension," Jena Economics Research Papers 2010-052, Friedrich-Schiller-University Jena.
    7. Irene Brambilla, 2018. "Digital Technology Adoption and Jobs: A Model of Firm Heterogeneity," IIE, Working Papers 117, IIE, Universidad Nacional de La Plata.
    8. Carlos Medina & Christian Posso, 2010. "Technical Change and Polarization of the Labor Market: Evidence for Brazil, Colombia and Mexico," Borradores de Economia 614, Banco de la Republica de Colombia.
    9. Stephen Machin & John Van Reenen, 2007. "Changes in Wage Inequality," CEP Reports 18, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
    10. T. Gries & R. Grundmann & I. Palnau & M. Redlin, 2017. "Innovations, growth and participation in advanced economies - a review of major concepts and findings," International Economics and Economic Policy, Springer, vol. 14(2), pages 293-351, April.
    11. Koomen, Miriam & Backes-Gellner, Uschi, 2022. "Occupational tasks and wage inequality in West Germany: A decomposition analysis," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 79(C).
    12. 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.
    13. Acemoglu, Daron & Autor, David, 2011. "Skills, Tasks and Technologies: Implications for Employment and Earnings," Handbook of Labor Economics, in: O. Ashenfelter & D. Card (ed.), Handbook of Labor Economics, edition 1, volume 4, chapter 12, pages 1043-1171, Elsevier.
    14. Böckerman, Petri & Laaksonen, Seppo & Vainiomäki, Jari, 2013. "Is there job polarization at the firm level?," MPRA Paper 50833, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    15. Peng, Fei & Anwar, Sajid & Kang, Lili, 2017. "New technology and old institutions: An empirical analysis of the skill-biased demand for older workers in Europe," Economic Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 64(C), pages 1-19.
    16. 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.
    17. Gries, T. & Grundmann, R. & Palnau, I. & Redlin, M., 2015. "Does technological change drive inclusive industrialization? : A review of major concepts and findings," MERIT Working Papers 2015-044, United Nations University - Maastricht Economic and Social Research Institute on Innovation and Technology (MERIT).
    18. Jimeno, Juan F. & Lamo, Ana & Christopoulou, Rebekka, 2010. "Changes in the wage structure in EU countries," Working Paper Series 1199, European Central Bank.
    19. Arntz, Melanie & Gregory, Terry & Zierahn, Ulrich, 2016. "ELS issues in robotics and steps to consider them. Part 1: Robotics and employment. Consequences of robotics and technological change for the structure and level of employment," ZEW Expertises, ZEW - Leibniz Centre for European Economic Research, number 146501, December.
    20. Graetz, Georg, 2020. "Technological change and the Swedish labor market," Working Paper Series 2020:19, IFAU - Institute for Evaluation of Labour Market and Education Policy.

    More about this item

    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
    • O33 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Technological Change: Choices and Consequences; Diffusion Processes

    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:nbr:nberwo:16138. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    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: the person in charge (email available below). General contact details of provider: https://edirc.repec.org/data/nberrus.html .

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

    IDEAS is a RePEc service. RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.