Extending the Race between Education and Technology

20 Pages Posted: 28 Jan 2020

See all articles by David H. Autor

David H. Autor

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Department of Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); IZA Institute of Labor Economics

Claudia Goldin

Harvard University

Lawrence F. Katz

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

Date Written: January 2020

Abstract

The race between education and technology provides a canonical framework that does an excellent job of explaining U.S. wage structure changes across the twentieth century. The framework involves secular increases in the demand for more-educated workers from skill-biased technological change, combined with variations in the supply of skills from changes in educational access. We expand the analysis backwards and forwards. The framework helps explain rising skill differentials in the nineteenth and twenty-first centuries, but needs to be augmented to illuminate the recent convexification of education returns and implied slowdown in the growth of the relative demand for college workers. Increased educational wage differentials explain 75 percent of the rise of U.S. wage inequality from 1980 to 2000 as compared to 38 percent for 2000 to 2017.

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Suggested Citation

Autor, David H. and Goldin, Claudia and Katz, Lawrence F., Extending the Race between Education and Technology (January 2020). NBER Working Paper No. w26705. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3525946

David H. Autor (Contact Author)

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Claudia Goldin

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Lawrence F. Katz

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