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Industry estimates of the elasticity of substitution and the rate of biased technological change between skilled and unskilled labour

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We estimate the elasticity of substitution between skilled and unskilled labour and the pace of skill-biased technological change at the industry level. The data is compiled from the March extract of the Current Population Survey (CPS) from 1968 to 2006. Industry information provided by the survey is used to group workers into 13 industry categories and education levels are used to dichotomize workers as skilled or unskilled. We construct measures of the ratio of skilled to unskilled employment and the ratio of skilled to unskilled wages in each industry. Using a relationship implied by profit maximizing behaviour on the part of representative firms, this data generates estimates of structural parameters. We find considerable differences across industries in the elasticity of substitution between skilled and unskilled labour. Furthermore, while most industries have experienced skill-biased technological change, the pace of this change has varied widely across industries.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Department of Economics,327 Waters Hall, Kansas State UniversityManhattanKS, 66506, USA

Publication date: 2011-09-01

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