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The Returns to Computer Use Revisited: Have Pencils Changed the Wage Structure Too?

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  • John E. DiNardo
  • Jorn-Steffen Pischke

Abstract

Are the large measured wage differentials associated with on-the-job computer use productivity gains or the result of unobserved heterogeneity? We examine this issue with three large cross-sectional surveys from Germany. First, we confirm that the estimated wage differentials associated with computer use in Germany are very similar to the U.S. differential. Second, using the same techniques we also measure large differentials for on-the-job use of calculators, telephones, pens or pencils, or for those who work while sitting down. Along with our reanalysis of the U.S. data these findings cast some doubt on the interpretation of the computer-use wage differential as reflecting productivity effects arising from the introduction of computers in the workplace.

Suggested Citation

  • John E. DiNardo & Jorn-Steffen Pischke, 1996. "The Returns to Computer Use Revisited: Have Pencils Changed the Wage Structure Too?," NBER Working Papers 5606, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:5606
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Entorf, Horst & Gollac, Michel & Kramarz, Francis, 1999. "New Technologies, Wages, and Worker Selection," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 17(3), pages 464-491, July.
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • J3 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs
    • O33 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Technological Change: Choices and Consequences; Diffusion Processes

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