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Title: Essays on skill-biased technology diffusion
Author: Magalhães, Rosinda M. F.
ISNI:       0000 0004 2724 9877
Awarding Body: University of Warwick
Current Institution: University of Warwick
Date of Award: 2011
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My thesis is a collection of three essays that consider various aspects of a skillbiased technology diffusion as well as skill premium, human capital acumulation and redistributive policies. The first chapter, co-authored with Christian Hellström, investigates the effects of skill-bisead technology change (SBTC) on income inequality and skills supply in the last 30 years in the US. In spite of the intensive debate about the effects of SBTC, its general equilibrium effects on the accumulation of skills and labor supply have been neglected. Thus, we build a dynamic general equilibrium model, in which growth is driven by skill-biased technology diffusion. Households have forward-looking expectations, and differ in terms of innate and idiosyncratic acquisition of skills. Contrary to pure technology progress models, technology diffusion models provide an explanation for the slowdown of the skill premium in the 70s compatible with the slow productivity growth. We find that first, technology diffusion raises the demand for skills and, consequently, the supply of skills. Second, skill-biased technology diffusion explains both the slowdown and the sharp increase of the skill premium observed in the 70s and 80s, respectively. In spite of the slowdown of the skill premium in the 70s, households anticipate the speed up of the technology diffusion and raise their investment in education, even during the economic slowdown. Therefore, the skills supply has continually increased since the 70s. Through a calibration exercise, we replicate the US trends for the skill-premium, skills supply, unskilled wages, consumption inequality and labor supply. The second chapter is motivated by the finding that the skill-biased technology diffusion increases both the skill-premium and skills supply in the last 30 years in the US . This chapter analyzes the effectiveness of redistributive policies in periods of technology diffusion. We build a microfounded general equilibrium model with skill-biased technology diffusion, endogenous labor supply, schooling decisions and redistributive policies. We show that, under endogenous schooling decisions, lump-sum transfers are ineffective. This policy raises the skill premium, in particular during the economic boom and in the long run, and reduces the social welfare during almost all of the technology cycle. Yet education subsidies incentivize the investment in education, decreasing the skill premium, raising the skills supply and social welfare. The investment in education tends to be counter-cyclical. On the one hand, forward-looking individuals anticipate the increase of demand for skills during the economic boom, increasing their investment in education during the economic recession. On the other hand, they also anticipate the maturation of the technology diffusion, reducing their investment in education during the economic boom. Finally, we show that education subsidies are Pareto-effcient, increasing welfare of both high- and low-skilled individuals. The third chapter endogenizes the technology diffusion path assumed in the first chapter. This chapter presents a two-sector growth model that explains the adoption of a skill-biased technology. There are two types of technology: low-tech and high-tech, and the latter is more productive and skill-biased. Technology is not embodied. To adopt high-technology, users must pay an instantaneous adoption cost, which decreases over time due to technology progress. Firms are homogeneous and act strategically, maximizing their profits given their rivals' behavior, leading to a technology sequential adoption pattern due to stock effects. We found that the decrease of the adoption cost and the increase of the technology knowledge due to learning effects leads to an increasing technology diffusion over time. The former has an constant effect over time, but for the latter, although positive, the effect is not constant, changing the speed of the technology diffusion over time.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia (FCT) (SFRH/BD/24068/2005)
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: HB Economic Theory