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Computers, Fax Machines and Wages in Canada: What Really Matters?

  • Drolet, Marie
  • Morissette, Rene
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    Controlling for observable worker attributes, we find that computer use is associated with a wage premium of at most 14%. Following Dinardo and Pischke (1997), we examine the wage premium associated with other tools used on the job. While these authors find a significant wage premium for the use of pencils or for sitting down while working, we find a substantial and robust wage premium for the use of a fax machine. Using a variety of reasonable specifications of wage equations including both a computer use indicator and a fax use indicator, we consistently find a stronger effect for fax machines than for computers. Along with Dinardo and Pischke (1997), we argue that workers who use computers earn more than other employees not because of their computing skills per se, but rather because they have more other unobserved skills - innate or learned through school - than other employees.

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    File URL: http://www5.statcan.gc.ca/olc-cel/olc.action?ObjId=11F0019M1998126&ObjType=46&lang=en&limit=0
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    Paper provided by Statistics Canada, Analytical Studies Branch in its series Analytical Studies Branch Research Paper Series with number 1998126e.

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    Date of creation: 27 Oct 1998
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    Handle: RePEc:stc:stcp3e:1998126e
    Contact details of provider: Postal: Tunney's Pasture, Ottawa, Ontario, K1A 0T6
    Web page: http://www.statcan.gc.ca

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    1. Dunne, Timothy & Schmitz, James A, Jr, 1995. "Wages, Employment Structure and Employer Size-Wage Premia: Their Relationship to Advanced-Technology Usage at US Manufacturing Establishments," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 62(245), pages 89-107, February.
    2. Entorf, Horst & Kramarz, Francis, 1997. "Does unmeasured ability explain the higher wages of new technology workers?," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 41(8), pages 1489-1509, August.
    3. 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.
    4. Brian D. Bell, . "Skill-Biased Technical Change and Wages: Evidence from a Longitudinal Data Se," Economics Papers W25., Economics Group, Nuffield College, University of Oxford.
    5. Nathalie Greenan & Jacques Mairesse, 1996. "Computers and Productivity in France: Some Evidence," NBER Working Papers 5836, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. Dinardo, J.E. & Pischke, J.S., 1996. "The Returns to Computer Use Revisited: Have Pencils Changed the Wage Structure Too?," Working papers 96-12, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
    7. Levy, Frank & Murnane, Richard J, 1992. "U.S. Earnings Levels and Earnings Inequality: A Review of Recent Trends and Proposed Explanations," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 30(3), pages 1333-81, September.
    8. 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.
    9. Allen, Steven G, 2001. "Technology and the Wage Structure," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 19(2), pages 440-83, April.
    10. 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..
    11. Richard B. Freeman & Karen Needels, 1993. "Skill Differentials in Canada in an Era of Rising Labor Market Inequality," NBER Chapters, in: Small Differences That Matter: Labor Markets and Income Maintenance in Canada and the United States, pages 45-68 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    12. Morissette, Rene, 1995. "Why Has Inequality in Weekly Earnings Increased in Canada?," Analytical Studies Branch Research Paper Series 1995080e, Statistics Canada, Analytical Studies Branch.
    13. Bound, John & Krueger, Alan B, 1991. "The Extent of Measurement Error in Longitudinal Earnings Data: Do Two Wrongs Make a Right?," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 9(1), pages 1-24, January.
    14. Johnson, Joanne & Baldwin, John R. & Gray, Tara, 1996. "Technology-induced Wage Premia in Canadian Manufacturing Plants During the 1980s," Analytical Studies Branch Research Paper Series 1996092e, Statistics Canada, Analytical Studies Branch.
    15. Beach, C.M. & Slotsve, G.A., 1994. "Polarization of Earnings in the Canadian Labour Market: A Non-Microdata Approach," Working Papers 17, John Deutsch Institute for the Study of Economic Policy.
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