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Skill-biased technological change, endogenous labor supply, and the skill premium

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  • Knoblach, Michael

Abstract

The evolution of the U.S. skill premium over the past century has been characterized by a U-shaped pattern. The previous literature has attributed this observation mainly to the existence of exogenous, unexpected technological shocks or changes in institutional factors. In contrast, this paper demonstrates that a U-shaped evolution of the skill premium can also be obtained using a simple two-sector growth model that comprises both variants of skill-biased technological change (SBTC): technological change (TC) that is favorable to high-skilled labor and capital-skill complementarity (CSC). Within this framework, we derive the conditions necessary to achieve a non-monotonic evolution of relative wages and analyze the dynamics of such a case. We show that in the short run for various parameter constellations an educational, a relative substitutability, and a factor intensity effect can induce a decrease in the skill premium despite moderate growth in the relative productivity of high-skilled labor. In the long run, as the difference in labor productivity increases, the skill premium also rises. To underpin our theoretical results, we conduct a comprehensive simulation study.

Suggested Citation

  • Knoblach, Michael, 2019. "Skill-biased technological change, endogenous labor supply, and the skill premium," CEPIE Working Papers 03/19, Technische Universität Dresden, Center of Public and International Economics (CEPIE).
  • Handle: RePEc:zbw:tudcep:0319
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Skill-Augmenting Technological Change; Capital-Skill Complementarity; Skill Premium; Neoclassical Growth Model;

    JEL classification:

    • E24 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Employment; Unemployment; Wages; Intergenerational Income Distribution; Aggregate Human Capital; Aggregate Labor Productivity
    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity
    • J31 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Wage Level and Structure; Wage Differentials
    • O33 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Technological Change: Choices and Consequences; Diffusion Processes
    • O41 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Growth and Aggregate Productivity - - - One, Two, and Multisector Growth Models

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