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Technology, Unemployment, and Inflation


  • Jacob Mincer
  • Stephan Danninger


We explore the response of employment (unemployment) skill differentials to skill-biased shifts in demand touched off by the new and spreading technologies. We find that skill differentials in unemployment follow at least in part the same pattern as skill differentials in wages: They widen initially but decline after a roughly 5-year lag, allowing time for training and learning to handle the new technologies. In the micro (PSID) cross-section the differentials show up as sectoral differences defined by technology. In the aggregate time series relative unemployment is defined by educational unemployment differentials. We find that the pace and turnaround in the unemployment gap' is twice as fast as in the wage gap'. Apparently, the hiring and training response is quicker than the wage response. We also observe in time series that the pace of technology has unclear effects on aggregate unemployment in the short run, but appears to reduce it in the longer run. In addition to technology, maturing of the workforce, and growth of international trade reduce unemployment in the longer run. The same variables also significantly reduce inflation in both the short and long run. Given the actual changes in these factors in the early 90's we are able to predict a little over a half of the decline in unemployment and about 70% of the reduction in inflation in the latter half of the last decade.

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  • Jacob Mincer & Stephan Danninger, 2000. "Technology, Unemployment, and Inflation," NBER Working Papers 7817, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:7817
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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Allen, Steven G, 2001. "Technology and the Wage Structure," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 19(2), pages 440-483, April.
    2. Ann P. Bartel & Nachum Sicherman, 1999. "Technological Change and Wages: An Interindustry Analysis," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 107(2), pages 285-325, April.
    3. 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.
    4. 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 718-755, October.
    5. M Frybourg, 1988. "The Impact of Technological Change," Environment and Planning C, , vol. 6(2), pages 145-152, June.
    6. Diebold, Francis X & Neumark, David & Polsky, Daniel, 1997. "Job Stability in the United States," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 15(2), pages 206-233, April.
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    Cited by:

    1. Edward N. Wolff, 2005. "Computerization and Rising Unemployment Duration," Eastern Economic Journal, Eastern Economic Association, vol. 31(4), pages 507-536, Fall.
    2. Pablo Burriel-Llombart & Jonathan Thomas, 2001. "Skill imbalances in the UK labour market: 1979-99," Bank of England working papers 145, Bank of England.
    3. Bharat Trehan, 2003. "Productivity shocks and the unemployment rate," Economic Review, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, pages 13-27.
    4. Jacob Mincer, 2003. "Technology and the Labor Market," Review of Economics of the Household, Springer, vol. 1(4), pages 249-272, December.

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