IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Skill-Biased Transition: The Role of Markets, Institutions, and Technological Change


  • Klara Sabirianova Peter



This study attempts to explain why the transition to a market economy is skill-biased. It shows unequivocal evidence on increased skill wage premium and supply of skills in transition economies. It examines whether similar skill???favoring shifts in the Russian and U.S. economies are driven by the same set of factors. Our analysis elaborates on the model of alternative theories of the increased wage skill premium and then evaluates three main hypotheses: skillbiased technological change, the market adjustment hypothesis, and the institutional factor hypothesis. To test these hypotheses, the study uses unique linked employer-employee data that spans the 16 years of the Soviet and transition periods in Russia (1985-2000), with a special emphasis on data quality, measurement errors, and retrospective biases. The main conclusion is that there is no uni-causal and time-invariant explanation for skill-biased changes in wages and employment in the Russian economy. The increased skill wage premium has been driven mainly by institutional factors during the early period and by productivity and technological change during the late transition period, and reinforced by market adjustment of wage ratio to the true differences in labor productivity.

Suggested Citation

  • Klara Sabirianova Peter, 2003. "Skill-Biased Transition: The Role of Markets, Institutions, and Technological Change," William Davidson Institute Working Papers Series 2003-616, William Davidson Institute at the University of Michigan.
  • Handle: RePEc:wdi:papers:2003-616

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Hansen, Lars Peter, 1982. "Large Sample Properties of Generalized Method of Moments Estimators," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 50(4), pages 1029-1054, July.
    2. Juan C. Botero & Simeon Djankov & Rafael La Porta & Florencio Lopez-de-Silanes & Andrei Shleifer, 2004. "The Regulation of Labor," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 119(4), pages 1339-1382.
    3. Raghuram G. Rajan & Luigi Zingales, 2000. "The Great Reversals: The Politics of Financial Development in the 20th Century," OECD Economics Department Working Papers 265, OECD Publishing.
    4. La Porta, Rafael & Lopez-de-Silanes, Florencio & Shleifer, Andrei & Vishny, Robert, 1999. "The Quality of Government," Journal of Law, Economics, and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 15(1), pages 222-279, April.
    5. Berkowitz, Daniel & Pistor, Katharina & Richard, Jean-Francois, 2003. "Economic development, legality, and the transplant effect," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 47(1), pages 165-195, February.
    6. Dani Rodrik, 2000. "Institutions for High-Quality Growth: What They are and How to Acquire Them," NBER Working Papers 7540, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    7. Simeon Djankov & Rafael La Porta & Florencio Lopez-de-Silanes & Andrei Shleifer, 2002. "The Regulation of Entry," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 117(1), pages 1-37.
    8. Sachs, Jeffrey D. & Warner, Andrew M., 1999. "The big push, natural resource booms and growth," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 59(1), pages 43-76, June.
    9. Rafael La Porta & Florencio Lopez-de-Silanes & Andrei Shleifer & Robert W. Vishny, 1998. "Law and Finance," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 106(6), pages 1113-1155, December.
    10. repec:hrv:faseco:30747190 is not listed on IDEAS
    11. Im, Kyung So & Pesaran, M. Hashem & Shin, Yongcheol, 2003. "Testing for unit roots in heterogeneous panels," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 115(1), pages 53-74, July.
    12. Clay, Karen B., 1999. "Property Rights and Institutions: Congress and the California Land Act 1851," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 59(01), pages 122-142, March.
    13. F. Andrew Hanssen, 2004. "Is There a Politically Optimal Level of Judicial Independence?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(3), pages 712-729, June.
    14. Daron Acemoglu & Simon Johnson & James A. Robinson, 2001. "The Colonial Origins of Comparative Development: An Empirical Investigation," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(5), pages 1369-1401, December.
    15. Jappelli, Tullio & Pagano, Marco & Bianco, Magda, 2005. "Courts and Banks: Effects of Judicial Enforcement on Credit Markets," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 37(2), pages 223-244, April.
    16. Mitchener, Kris James & McLean, Ian W, 2003. "The Productivity of US States since 1880," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 8(1), pages 73-114, March.
    17. Abhijit Banerjee & Lakshmi Iyer, 2005. "History, Institutions, and Economic Performance: The Legacy of Colonial Land Tenure Systems in India," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(4), pages 1190-1213, September.
    18. Stanley L. Engerman & Kenneth Lee Sokoloff, 2002. "Factor Endowments, Inequality, and Paths of Development Among New World Economies," ECONOMIA JOURNAL OF THE LATIN AMERICAN AND CARIBBEAN ECONOMIC ASSOCIATION, ECONOMIA JOURNAL OF THE LATIN AMERICAN AND CARIBBEAN ECONOMIC ASSOCIATION, vol. 0(Fall 2002), pages 41-110, August.
    19. F. Andrew Hanssen, 2004. "Learning about Judicial Independence: Institutional Change in the State Courts," The Journal of Legal Studies, University of Chicago Press, vol. 33(2), pages 431-473, June.
    20. repec:hrv:faseco:30747160 is not listed on IDEAS
    21. Bernstein, Lisa, 1992. "Opting Out of the Legal System: Extralegal Contractual Relations in the Diamond Industry," The Journal of Legal Studies, University of Chicago Press, vol. 21(1), pages 115-157, January.
    22. Cornell, Stephen & Kalt, Joseph P., 2000. "Where's the glue? Institutional and cultural foundations of American Indian economic development," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 29(5), pages 443-470.
    23. Gavin Wright, "undated". "Slavery and American Agricultural History," Working Papers 03006, Stanford University, Department of Economics.
    24. Cornell, Stephen & Kalt, Joseph P, 1995. "Where Does Economic Development Really Come From? Constitutional Rule among the Contemporary Sioux and Apache," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 33(3), pages 402-426, July.
    25. Hendry, David F, 1980. "Econometrics-Alchemy or Science?," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 47(188), pages 387-406, November.
    26. Levin, Andrew & Lin, Chien-Fu & James Chu, Chia-Shang, 2002. "Unit root tests in panel data: asymptotic and finite-sample properties," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 108(1), pages 1-24, May.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. Stepán Jurajda & Katherine Terrell, 2009. "Regional unemployment and human capital in transition economies," The Economics of Transition, The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, vol. 17(2), pages 241-274, April.
    2. Andren, Daniela & Earle, John S. & Sapatoru, Dana, 2005. "The wage effects of schooling under socialism and in transition: Evidence from Romania, 1950-2000," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 33(2), pages 300-323, June.
    3. Fleisher, Belton M. & Sabirianova, Klara & Wang, Xiaojun, 2005. "Returns to skills and the speed of reforms: Evidence from Central and Eastern Europe, China, and Russia," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 33(2), pages 351-370, June.
    4. Aleksandra Parteka, 2012. "Skilled-Unskilled Wage Gap Versus Evolving Trade And Labour Market Structures in the EU," Working Papers 1204, Instytut Rozwoju, Institute for Development.
    5. Gorodnichenko, Yuriy & Sabirianova Peter, Klara, 2005. "Returns to schooling in Russia and Ukraine: A semiparametric approach to cross-country comparative analysis," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 33(2), pages 324-350, June.
    6. Gimpelson, Vladimir & Kapeliushnikov, Rostislav, 2016. "Polarization or upgrading? Evolution of employment in transitional Russia," Russian Journal of Economics, Elsevier, vol. 2(2), pages 192-218.
    7. Berger, Mark C. & Blomquist, Glenn C. & Sabirianova Peter, Klara, 2008. "Compensating differentials in emerging labor and housing markets: Estimates of quality of life in Russian cities," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 63(1), pages 25-55, January.
    8. Rutkowski, Jan, 2006. "Labor market developments during economic transition," Policy Research Working Paper Series 3894, The World Bank.
    9. Lukiyanova, A., 2011. "Wage Inequality in Russian Economic Transition (1991–2008): Stylized Facts and Explanations," Journal of the New Economic Association, New Economic Association, issue 12, pages 124-147.
    10. Denisova, Irina & Kartseva, Marina, 2007. "A Premium for a Degree in Engineering: An Estimation of Returns to the Field-Specific Education in Russia," Applied Econometrics, Publishing House "SINERGIA PRESS", vol. 5(1), pages 30-57.

    More about this item


    technological change; wage inequality; human capital; transition; Russia; linked employer-employee data;

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:wdi:papers:2003-616. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (WDI). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    We have no references for this item. You can help adding them by using this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.