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Off and running? Technology, trade and the rising demand for skilled workers in Latin America

  • Sanchez-Paramo, Carolina
  • Schady, Norbert

The authors describe the evolution of relative wages in five Latin American countries-Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, and Mexico. They use repeated cross-sections of household surveys, and decompose the evolution of relative wages into factors associated with changes in relative supply and relative demand. The authors have three main conclusions: 1) Increases in the relative wages of the most skilled (university-educated) workers took place concurrently with increases in their relative abundance in all of the countries except Brazil. This is strong evidence of increases in the demand for skilled workers. 2) Increases in the wage bill of skilled workers occurred largely within sectors, and in the same sectors in different countries, which is consistent with skill-biased technological change. 3) Trade appears to be an important transmission mechanism. Increases in the demand for the most skilled workers took place at a time when countries in Latin America considerably increased the penetration of imports, including imports of capital goods. The authors show that changes in the volume and research and development intensity of imports are significantly related to changes in the demand for more skilled workers in Latin America. Their research complements earlier work on the effects of technology transmitted through trade on productivity and on the demand for skilled labor.

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Paper provided by The World Bank in its series Policy Research Working Paper Series with number 3015.

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Date of creation: 30 Apr 2003
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Handle: RePEc:wbk:wbrwps:3015
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  1. repec:att:wimass:9620 is not listed on IDEAS
  2. Eli Berman & John Bound & Stephen Machin, 1997. "Implications of Skill-Biased Technological Change: International Evidence," Boston University - Institute for Economic Development 78, Boston University, Institute for Economic Development.
  3. Acemoglu, D. & Zilibotti, F., 1998. "Productivity Differences," Papers 660, Stockholm - International Economic Studies.
  4. Pavcnik, Nina, 2002. "Trade Liberalization, Exit, and Productivity Improvement: Evidence from Chilean Plants," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 69(1), pages 245-76, January.
  5. Keller, W., 1997. "Trade and the Transmission of Technology," Working papers 9620r, Wisconsin Madison - Social Systems.
  6. David H. Autor & Lawrence F. Katz & Alan B. Krueger, 1997. "Computing Inequality: Have Computers Changed the Labor Market?," NBER Working Papers 5956, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Schiff, Maurice & Wang, Yanling & Olarreaga, Marcelo, 2002. "Trade-related technology diffusion and the dynamics of North-South and South-South integration," Policy Research Working Paper Series 2861, The World Bank.
  8. Gordon H. Hanson & Ann Harrison, 1999. "Trade liberalization and wage inequality in Mexico," Industrial and Labor Relations Review, ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 52(2), pages 271-288, January.
  9. Robert J. Barro & Jong-Wha Lee, 2000. "International Data on Educational Attainment: Updates and Implications," CID Working Papers 42, Center for International Development at Harvard University.
  10. David Card & Thomas Lemieux, 2001. "Can Falling Supply Explain The Rising Return To College For Younger Men? A Cohort-Based Analysis," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 116(2), pages 705-746, May.
  11. David Card & John E. DiNardo, 2002. "Skill Biased Technological Change and Rising Wage Inequality: Some Problems and Puzzles," NBER Working Papers 8769, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. Coe, David T & Helpman, Elhanan & Hoffmaister, Alexander, 1995. "North-South R&D Spillovers," CEPR Discussion Papers 1133, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  13. Attanasio, Orazio & Goldberg, Pinelopi K. & Pavcnik, Nina, 2004. "Trade reforms and wage inequality in Colombia," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 74(2), pages 331-366, August.
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  16. Berman, Eli & Bound, John & Griliches, Zvi, 1994. "Changes in the Demand for Skilled Labor within U.S. Manufacturing: Evidence from the Annual Survey of Manufactures," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 109(2), pages 367-97, May.
  17. Jere R. Behrman & Nancy Birdsall & Miguel Székely, 2003. "Economic Policy and Wage Differentials in Latin America," Working Papers 29, Center for Global Development.
  18. Robert C. Feenstra & Gordon H. Hanson, 1996. "Globalization, Outsourcing, and Wage Inequality," NBER Working Papers 5424, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  19. Glewwe, Paul & Hall, Gillette, 1998. "Are some groups more vulnerable to macroeconomic shocks than others? Hypothesis tests based on panel data from Peru," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 56(1), pages 181-206, June.
  20. Bell, Linda A, 1997. "The Impact of Minimum Wages in Mexico and Colombia," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 15(3), pages S102-35, July.
  21. Stephen Machin & John Van Reenen, 1998. "Technology and changes in skill structure: evidence from seven OECD countries," IFS Working Papers W98/04, Institute for Fiscal Studies.
  22. Katz, Lawrence F. & Autor, David H., 1999. "Changes in the wage structure and earnings inequality," Handbook of Labor Economics, in: O. Ashenfelter & D. Card (ed.), Handbook of Labor Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 26, pages 1463-1555 Elsevier.
  23. Juhn, Chinhui & Murphy, Kevin M & Pierce, Brooks, 1993. "Wage Inequality and the Rise in Returns to Skill," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 101(3), pages 410-42, June.
  24. Schultz, Theodore W, 1975. "The Value of the Ability to Deal with Disequilibria," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 13(3), pages 827-46, September.
  25. Berman, Eli & Machin, Stephen, 2000. "Skill-Based Technology Transfer around the World," Oxford Review of Economic Policy, Oxford University Press, vol. 16(3), pages 12-22, Autumn.
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