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What happens when agent T gets a computer?

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  • Borghans,L.
  • Weel,B.,ter

    (ROA rm)

Abstract

During the last decade a great many authors have shown that computers have a large impact on skill demand, production processes, and the organization and intensity of work. Analyses have indicated that the rates of change of these variables have been the largest in the more computer-intensive sectors. Empirical findings, however, suggest that the effects of computers on the labor market are complicated and difficult to trace. This paper offers a simple model to explain how computers have changed the labor market. The model demonstrates that wage differentials between computer users and other workers are consistent with the observation that computers are first introduced in high-wage jobs because of cost efficiency. It also shows that neither computer skills nor complementary skills are needed to explain skill upgrading, changes in product characteristics, and the organization and intensity of work. Finally, it is shown that these findings shed a different light on the way computers have changed the labor market and on the changes to be expected following the further diffusion of computers.

Suggested Citation

  • Borghans,L. & Weel,B.,ter, 2001. "What happens when agent T gets a computer?," ROA Research Memorandum 004, Maastricht University, Research Centre for Education and the Labour Market (ROA).
  • Handle: RePEc:unm:umaror:2001004
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    Cited by:

    1. David H. Autor & Frank Levy & Richard J. Murnane, 2003. "The Skill Content of Recent Technological Change: An Empirical Exploration," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 118(4), pages 1279-1333.
    2. Borghans, Lex & ter Weel, Bas, 2004. "What happens when agent T gets a computer?: The labor market impact of cost efficient computer adoption," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 54(2), pages 137-151, June.
    3. Lex Borghans & Bas ter Weel, 2011. "Computers, skills and wages," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 43(29), pages 4607-4622.
    4. Borghans,Lex & Weel,Bas,ter & Weinberg,Bruce, 2005. "People People: Social Capital and the Labor-Market Outcomes of Underrepresented Groups," ROA Research Memorandum 002, Maastricht University, Research Centre for Education and the Labour Market (ROA).
    5. Borghans,Lex & Weel,Bas,ter, 2002. "Do Older Workers Have More Trouble Using a Computer Than Younger Workers?," ROA Research Memorandum 003, Maastricht University, Research Centre for Education and the Labour Market (ROA).

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    Keywords

    education; training and the labour market;

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