The Origins of Technology-Skill Complementarity
Current concern with relationships among particular technologies, capital, and the wage structure motivates this study of the origins of technology-skill complementarity in manufacturing. We offer evidence of the existence of technology-skill and capital-skill (relative) complementarities from 1909 to 1929, and suggest that they were associated with continuous-process and batch methods and the adoption of electric motors. Industries that used more capital per worker and a greater proportion of their horsepower in the form of purchased electricity employed relatively more educated blue-collar workers in 1940 and paid their blue-collar workers substantially more from 1909 to 1929. We also infer capital-skill complementarity using the wage-bill for non-production workers and find that the relationship was as large from 1909-19 as it has been recently. Finally, we link our findings to those on the high-school movement (1910 to 1940). The rapid increase in the supply of skills from 1910 to 1940 may have prevented rising inequality with technological change.
|Date of creation:||Jul 1996|
|Date of revision:|
|Publication status:||published as Quarterly Journal of Economics, Vol. 113 (June 1998): 683-732.|
|Contact details of provider:|| Postal: |
Web page: http://www.nber.org
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.:
- Bartel, Ann P & Sicherman, Nachum, 1998.
"Technological Change and the Skill Acquisition of Young Workers,"
Journal of Labor Economics,
University of Chicago Press, vol. 16(4), pages 718-55, October.
- Ann P. Bartel & Nachum Sicherman, 1995. "Technological Change and the Skill Acquisition of Young Workers," NBER Working Papers 5107, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Eric J. Bartelsman & Wayne Gray, 1996. "The NBER Manufacturing Productivity Database," NBER Technical Working Papers 0205, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Bartel, A.P. & Sicherman, N., 1995. "Technological Change and the Skill Acquisition of Young Workers," Papers 95-10, Columbia - Graduate School of Business.
- Devine, Warren D., 1983. "From Shafts to Wires: Historical Perspective on Electrification," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 43(02), pages 347-372, June.
- 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.
- David Autor, 2000.
"Wiring the Labor Market,"
NBER Working Papers
7959, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Steven G. Allen, 1996.
"Technology and the Wage Structure,"
NBER Working Papers
5534, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Jacob Mincer, 1989. "Human Capital Responses to Technological Change in the Labor Market," NBER Working Papers 3207, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Doms, Mark & Dunne, Timothy & Troske, Kenneth R, 1997. "Workers, Wages, and Technology," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 112(1), pages 253-90, February.
- Kenneth L. Sokoloff, 1986. "Productivity Growth in Manufacturing during Early Industrialization: Evidence from the American Northeast, 1820-1860," NBER Chapters, in: Long-Term Factors in American Economic Growth, pages 679-736 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Griliches, Zvi, 1969. "Capital-Skill Complementarity," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 51(4), pages 465-68, November.
- Fallon, P R & Layard, P R G, 1975. "Capital-Skill Complementarity, Income Distribution, and Output Accounting," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 83(2), pages 279-301, April.
- James, John A. & Skinner, Jonathan S., 1985.
"The Resolution of the Labor-Scarcity Paradox,"
The Journal of Economic History,
Cambridge University Press, vol. 45(03), pages 513-540, September.
- Berndt, Ernst R. & Morrison, Catherine J. & Rosenblum, Larry S., 1992.
"High-tech capital formation and labor composition in U.S. manufacturing industries : an exploratory analysis,"
3414-92., Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Sloan School of Management.
- Ernst R. Berndt & Catherine J. Morrison & Larry S. Rosenblum, 1992. "High-Tech Capital Formation and Labor Composition in U.S. Manufacturing Industries: An Exploratory Analysis," NBER Working Papers 4010, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Daniel Creamer & Sergei Dobrovolsky & Israel Borenstein, 1960. "Capital in Manufacturing and Mining: Its Formation and Financing," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number crea60-1, October.
- Bartel, Ann P & Lichtenberg, Frank R, 1987. "The Comparative Advantage of Educated Workers in Implementing New Technology," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 69(1), pages 1-11, February.
When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:5657. 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: ()
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.