ICT’s Effect on the Demand for Skills

 Novo paper do NBER- national Bureau of Economic Research, dos EUA!

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Technology’s Effect on the Demand for Skills

If information and communication technologies (ICT) complement the analytical tasks primarily performed by highly educated workers and substitute for the routine tasks generally performed by middle educated workers — but have little effect on low educated workers who perform manual non-routine tasks — then ICT can explain the observed polarization in the labor market. Using industry-level data on the U.S., Japan, and nine European countries from 1980-2004, co-authors Guy Michaels, Ashwini Natraj, and John Van Reenen confirm that industries with faster growth of ICT saw greater increases in relative demand for high educated workers and larger declines in relative demand for middle educated workers. Technologies can account for up to one fourth of the growth in demand for the college educated in the quarter century since 1980, they conclude.
Abstract
 
Has ICT Polarized Skill Demand? Evidence from Eleven Countries over 25 years
Guy Michaels, Ashwini Natraj, John Van Reenen
NBER Working Paper No. 16138
Issued in June 2010
NBER Program(s):   ITI   LS   PR

OECD labor markets have become more “polarized” with employment in the middle of the skill distribution falling relative to the top and (in recent years) also the bottom of the skill distribution. We test the hypothesis of Autor, Levy, and Murnane (2003) that this is partly due to information and communication technologies (ICT) complementing the analytical tasks primarily performed by highly educated workers and substituting for routine tasks generally performed by middle educated workers (with little effect on low educated workers performing manual non-routine tasks). Using industry level data on the US, Japan, and nine European countries 1980-2004 we find evidence consistent with ICT-based polarization. Industries with faster growth of ICT had greater increases in relative demand for high educated workers and bigger falls in relative demand for middle educated workers. Trade openness is also associated with polarization, but this is not robust to controls for technology (like R&D). Technologies can account for up to a quarter of the growth in demand for the college educated in the quarter century since 1980.

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