IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/p/nbr/nberwo/6565.html
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Does the Sector Bias of Skill-Biased Technical Change Explain Changing Wage Inequality?

Author

Listed:
  • Jonathan E. Haskel
  • Matthew J. Slaughter

Abstract

This paper examines whether the sector bias of skill-biased technical change (sbtc) explains changing skill premia within countries in recent decades. First, using a two-factor, two-sector, two-country model we demonstrate that in many cases it is the sector bias of sbtc that determines sbtc's effect on relative factor prices, not its factor bias. Thus, rising (falling) skill premia are caused by more extensive sbtc in skill-intensive (unskill-intensive) sectors. Second, we test the sector-bias hypothesis using industry data for many countries in recent decades. An initial consistency check strongly supports the hypothesis. Among ten countries we find a strong correlation between changes in skill premia and the sector bias of sbtc during the 1970s and 1980s. The hypothesis is also strongly supported by more structural estimation on U.S. and U.K. data of the economy-wide wage changes mandated' to maintain zero profits in all sectors in response to the sector bias of sbtc. The suggestive mandated-wage estimates match the direction of actual wage changes in both countries during both the 1970s and the 1980s. Thus, the empirical evidence strongly suggests that the sector bias of sbtc can help explain changing skill premia.

Suggested Citation

  • Jonathan E. Haskel & Matthew J. Slaughter, 1998. "Does the Sector Bias of Skill-Biased Technical Change Explain Changing Wage Inequality?," NBER Working Papers 6565, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:6565 Note: LS ITI
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w6565.pdf
    Download Restriction: no

    Other versions of this item:

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Nicole M. Fortin & Thomas Lemieux, 1997. "Institutional Changes and Rising Wage Inequality: Is There a Linkage?," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 11(2), pages 75-96, Spring.
    2. Binswanger, Hans P, 1974. "The Measurement of Technical Change Biases with Many Factors of Production," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 64(6), pages 964-976, December.
    3. Leamer, Edward E. & Levinsohn, James, 1995. "International trade theory: The evidence," Handbook of International Economics,in: G. M. Grossman & K. Rogoff (ed.), Handbook of International Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 26, pages 1339-1394 Elsevier.
    4. James Harrigan, 1997. "Estimation of Cross-Country Differences in Industry," NBER Working Papers 6121, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. Steven J. Davis, 1992. "Cross-Country Patterns of Change in Relative Wages," NBER Chapters,in: NBER Macroeconomics Annual 1992, Volume 7, pages 239-300 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. Eli Bekman & John Bound & Stephen Machin, 1998. "Implications of Skill-Biased Technological Change: International Evidence," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 113(4), pages 1245-1279.
    7. Krugman, Paul R., 2000. "Technology, trade and factor prices," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 50(1), pages 51-71, February.
    8. David Autor & Lawrence Katz & Alan Krueger, 1997. "Computing Inequality: Have Computers Changed the Labor Market?," Working Papers 756, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
    9. Trefler, Daniel, 1993. "International Factor Price Differences: Leontief Was Right!," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 101(6), pages 961-987, December.
    10. R. E. Baldwin & G. G. Cain, "undated". "Shifts in U.S. Relative Wages: The Role of Trade, Technology, and Factor Endowments," Institute for Research on Poverty Discussion Papers 1132-97, University of Wisconsin Institute for Research on Poverty.
    11. 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, Oxford University Press, vol. 109(2), pages 367-397.
    12. Wood Júnior, Thomaz, 1995. "Workers," RAE - Revista de Administração de Empresas, FGV-EAESP Escola de Administração de Empresas de São Paulo (Brazil), vol. 35(2), March.
    13. J. David Richardson, 1995. "Income Inequality and Trade: How to Think, What to Conclude," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 9(3), pages 33-55, Summer.
    14. Hakura, D. & Deardorff, A.V., 1993. "Trade and Wages: What Are the Questions?," Working Papers 341, Research Seminar in International Economics, University of Michigan.
    15. Richard B. Freeman, 1995. "Are Your Wages Set in Beijing?," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 9(3), pages 15-32, Summer.
    16. George E. Johnson, 1997. "Changes in Earnings Inequality: The Role of Demand Shifts," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 11(2), pages 41-54, Spring.
    17. Blau, Francine D & Kahn, Lawrence M, 1996. "International Differences in Male Wage Inequality: Institutions versus Market Forces," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 104(4), pages 791-836, August.
    18. Robert H. Topel, 1997. "Factor Proportions and Relative Wages: The Supply-Side Determinants of Wage Inequality," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 11(2), pages 55-74, Spring.
    19. David H. Autor & Lawrence F. Katz & Alan B. Krueger, 1998. "Computing Inequality: Have Computers Changed the Labor Market?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 113(4), pages 1169-1213.
    20. Adrian Wood, 1995. "How Trade Hurt Unskilled Workers," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 9(3), pages 57-80, Summer.
    21. Edward E. Leamer, 1996. "In Search of Stolper-Samuelson Effects on U.S. Wages," NBER Working Papers 5427, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    22. repec:fth:prinin:377 is not listed on IDEAS
    23. Ronald Findlay & Harry Grubert, 1959. "Factor Intensities, Technological Progress, And The Terms Of Trade," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 11(1), pages 111-121.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • F1 - International Economics - - Trade
    • J3 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs

    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:6565. 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: (). General contact details of provider: http://edirc.repec.org/data/nberrus.html .

    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 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.

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

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.