The March of the Techies: Technology, Trade, and Job Polarization in France, 1994-2007

71 Pages Posted: 7 Jul 2016

See all articles by James Harrigan

James Harrigan

University of Virginia - Department of Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Ariell Reshef

Paris School of Economics (PSE); CNRS; Université Paris I Panthéon-Sorbonne - CES/CNRS; Centre d'Etudes Prospectives et d'Info. Internationales (CEPII)

Farid Toubal

Ecole Normale Superieure de Cachan (ENS) - Departement of Economics ans Management; National Institute of Statistics and Economic Studies (INSEE) - Center for Research in Economics and Statistics (CREST); Centre d'Etudes Prospectives et d'Info. Internationales (CEPII)

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Date Written: June 13, 2016

Abstract

Using administrative employee-firm-level data on the entire private sector from 1994 to 2007, we show that the labor market in France has polarized: employment shares of high and low wage occupations have grown, while middle wage occupations have shrunk. During the same period, the share of hours worked in technology-related occupations (“techies”) grew substantially, as did imports and exports, and we explore the causal links between these trends. Our paper is among the first to analyze polarization in any country using firm-level data, and we show how polarization occurred within firms, but mostly due to changes in the composition of firms (between firms). Motivated by the fact that technology adoption is mediated by technically qualified managers and technicians, we use a new measure of the propensity of a firm to adopt new technology: its employment share of techies. Using the subsample of firms that are active over the whole period, we show that firms with more techies in 2002 saw greater polarization, and grew faster, from 2002 to 2007. Offshoring reduced employment growth. Among blue-collar workers in manufacturing, importing caused skill upgrading while exporting caused skill downgrading. To control for the endogeneity of firm-level techies and trade in 2002, we use values of techies and trade from 1994 to 1998 as instruments. We conclude that technological change, mediated through techies, is an important cause of polarization in France. Firm-level trade had important effects in manufacturing.

Keywords: job polarization, technological change, offshoring, skill bias, firm level data

JEL Classification: J200, O300, D300, F100, F160, F660

Suggested Citation

Harrigan, James and Reshef, Ariell and Toubal, Farid, The March of the Techies: Technology, Trade, and Job Polarization in France, 1994-2007 (June 13, 2016). CESifo Working Paper Series No. 5942. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2805869

James Harrigan

University of Virginia - Department of Economics ( email )

P.O. Box 400182
Charlottesville, VA 22904-4182
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Ariell Reshef

Paris School of Economics (PSE) ( email )

48 Boulevard Jourdan
Paris, 75014 75014
France

CNRS ( email )

France

Université Paris I Panthéon-Sorbonne - CES/CNRS ( email )

106 bv de l'Hôpital
Paris, 75013
France

Centre d'Etudes Prospectives et d'Info. Internationales (CEPII) ( email )

9 rue Georges Pitard
Paris Cedex 15, F-75015
France

Farid Toubal (Contact Author)

Ecole Normale Superieure de Cachan (ENS) - Departement of Economics ans Management ( email )

France

National Institute of Statistics and Economic Studies (INSEE) - Center for Research in Economics and Statistics (CREST) ( email )

15 Boulevard Gabriel Peri
Malakoff Cedex, 1 92245
France

Centre d'Etudes Prospectives et d'Info. Internationales (CEPII) ( email )

9 rue Georges Pitard
Paris Cedex 15, F-75015
France

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