The Long-Term Consequences of the Tech Bubble on Skilled Workers' Earnings
42 Pages Posted: 14 Jun 2018 Last revised: 24 Aug 2018
Date Written: February 25, 2018
We use French matched employer-employee data to track skilled individuals entering the labor market during the late 1990s tech bubble. The boom led to a sharp increase in the share of skilled entrants in the tech sector, which offers relative higher wages at the time. When the boom ends, however, the wage premium reverses and these skilled workers end up with a 5.5% wage discount ten years out, relative to similar peers who started in a non-tech sector. Other moments of the wage distribution of the boom, pre-boom, and post-boom cohorts are inconsistent with explanations based on a selection effect or a cycle effect. Instead, we provide suggestive evidence that workers allocated to the booming tech sector accumulate human capital early in their career that rapidly becomes obsolete.
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