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Technology, Unemployment, and Relative Wages in a Global Economy

  • Donald R. Davis

Arguably the most important development in recent decades in US factor markets is the decline in the relative wage of the unskilled. By contrast, in Europe it is undoubtedly the rise and persistence of unemployment. Technology has been identified as a key reason for the rising US wage inequality, while labor market rigidities are often cited as a key reason for European unemployment. This paper seeks to provide a unified account of these major factor market developments. It models the impact of technical change on relative wages and unemployment in a world in which one country has flexible and the other rigid labor market institutions. The results depart significantly but sensibly from what one would expect in a fully flexible wage world. A few stylized facts help to narrow the field to a few candidates to account for these factor market developments.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 5636.

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Date of creation: Jun 1996
Date of revision:
Publication status: published as European Economic Review (November 1998).
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:5636
Note: ITI
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  1. Paul Krugman, 1995. "Growing World Trade: Causes and Consequences," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 26(1, 25th A), pages 327-377.
  2. E. Berman & J. Bound & S. Machin, 1997. "Implications of skill-biased technological change: international evidence," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 20314, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
  3. Mussa, Michael, 1979. "The two-sector model in terms of its dual : A geometric exposition," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 9(4), pages 513-526, November.
  4. Brecher, Richard A, 1974. "Minimum Wage Rates and the Pure Theory of International Trade," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 88(1), pages 98-116, February.
  5. David Blanchflower & L Katz & G Loveman, 1993. "A Comparison of Changes in the Structure of Wages in Four OECD Countries," CEP Discussion Papers dp0144, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
  6. Edward E. Leamer, 1994. "Trade, Wages and Revolving Door Ideas," NBER Working Papers 4716, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Berman, Eli & Bound, John & Griliches, Zvi, 1994. "Changes in the Demand for Skilled Labor within U.S. Manufacturing: Evidence from the Annual Survey of Manufactures," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 109(2), pages 367-97, May.
  8. Donald R. Davis, 1996. "Does European Unemployment Prop up American Wages?," NBER Working Papers 5620, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Lawrence F. Katz & Gary W. Loveman & David G. Blanchflower, 1993. "A Comparison of Changes in the Structure of Wages," NBER Working Papers 4297, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. 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.
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