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The Media is the Measure: Technical change and employment, 1909-1949

  • Jon Cohen

    (University of Toronto)

  • Michelle Alexopoulos

    (University of Toronto)

New indicators, based on technology titles, are used to measure the impact of innovative activity on the U.S. labor market between 1909 and 1949. We find positive technology shocks raised productivity, employment, vacancies and labor turnover and lowered unemployment. Moreover, innovations in automotive and electrical had a greater positive impact on employment than those in mechanical. The overall results, compatible with the predictions of the real business cycle model, raise questions about the anemic recovery in employment after 1934 since the strong upsurge in technical change failed to be accompanied by an equally vigorous expansion in jobs.

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Paper provided by Society for Economic Dynamics in its series 2012 Meeting Papers with number 301.

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Date of creation: 2012
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Handle: RePEc:red:sed012:301
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  1. John Shea, 1999. "What Do Technology Shocks Do?," NBER Chapters, in: NBER Macroeconomics Annual 1998, volume 13, pages 275-322 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Rupert Harrison & Jordi Jaumandreu & Jacques Mairesse & Bettina Peters, 2008. "Does Innovation Stimulate Employment? A Firm-Level Analysis Using Comparable Micro-Data from Four European Countries," NBER Working Papers 14216, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Robert A. Margo, 1992. "Employment and Unemployment in the 1930s," NBER Working Papers 4174, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Lawrence J. Christiano & Martin Eichenbaum & Robert Vigfusson, 2004. "The Response of Hours to a Technology Shock: Evidence Based on Direct Measures of Technology," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 2(2-3), pages 381-395, 04/05.
  5. Harold L. Cole & Lee E. Ohanian, 2004. "New Deal Policies and the Persistence of the Great Depression: A General Equilibrium Analysis," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 112(4), pages 779-816, August.
  6. Fernald, John G., 2007. "Trend breaks, long-run restrictions, and contractionary technology improvements," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 54(8), pages 2467-2485, November.
  7. Neville Francis & Valerie A. Ramey, 2006. "The Source of Historical Economic Fluctuations: An Analysis Using Long-Run Restrictions," NBER Chapters, in: NBER International Seminar on Macroeconomics 2004, pages 17-73 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Lawrence J. Christiano & Martin Eichenbaum & Charles Evans, 2001. "Nominal Rigidities and the Dynamic Effects of a Shock to Monetary Policy," NBER Working Papers 8403, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Bronwyn H. Hall & Manuel Trajtenberg, 2004. "Uncovering GPTS with Patent Data," NBER Working Papers 10901, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Gospodinov, Nikolay & Maynard, Alex & Pesavento, Elena, 2011. "Sensitivity of Impulse Responses to Small Low-Frequency Comovements: Reconciling the Evidence on the Effects of Technology Shocks," Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, American Statistical Association, vol. 29(4), pages 455-467.
  11. Doms, Mark & Dunne, Timothy & Roberts, Mark J., 1995. "The role of technology use in the survival and growth of manufacturing plants," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 13(4), pages 523-542, December.
  12. Peter L. Rousseau & Boyan Jovanovic, 2004. "General Purpose Technologies," 2004 Meeting Papers 103, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  13. Ross, David R. & Zimmermann, Klaus F., 1993. "Evaluating reported determinants of labor demand," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 1(1), pages 71-84, June.
  14. Vivarelli, Marco, 2007. "Innovation and Employment: A Survey," IZA Discussion Papers 2621, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  15. Michelle Alexopoulos, 2010. "Read All About it!! What happens following a technology shock?," Working Papers tecipa-391, University of Toronto, Department of Economics.
  16. Jordi Gali, 1999. "Technology, Employment, and the Business Cycle: Do Technology Shocks Explain Aggregate Fluctuations?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(1), pages 249-271, March.
  17. Francis, Neville & Ramey, Valerie A., 2005. "Is the technology-driven real business cycle hypothesis dead? Shocks and aggregate fluctuations revisited," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 52(8), pages 1379-1399, November.
  18. Alexander J. Field, 2003. "The Most Technologically Progressive Decade of the Century," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(4), pages 1399-1413, September.
  19. Stefania Albanesi & Claudia Olivetti, 2015. "Gender Roles and Medical Progress," Working Papers 2015-002, Human Capital and Economic Opportunity Working Group.
  20. John W. Kendrick, 1961. "Productivity Trends in the United States," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number kend61-1.
  21. Michelle Alexopoulos & Jon Cohen, 2011. "Volumes of evidence: examining technical change in the last century through a new lens," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 44(2), pages 413-450, May.
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