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The Economics of Has-Beens

  • Glenn MacDonald
  • Michael Weisbach

Evolution of technology causes human capital to become obsolete. We study this phenomenon in an overlapping generations setting, assuming it is hard to predict how technology will evolve, and that older workers find updating uneconomic. Among our results is the proposition that (under certain conditions) a more rapid pace of technological advance is especially unfavorable to the old in the sense that the implied within-industry division of output or income between young and old becomes much more skewed, i.e., a smaller number of young earn comparatively more. We apply our results to architecture, an occupation in which the has-beens phenomenon has had a particularly acute impact.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 8464.

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Date of creation: Sep 2001
Date of revision:
Publication status: published as MacDonald, Glenn and Michael S. Weisbach. "The Economics Of Has-Beens," Journal of Political Economy, 2004, v112(2,Part2), S289-S310.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:8464
Note: CF LS
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