Comparative Advantage, Relative Wages, and the Accumulation of Human Capital
Posted: 29 Mar 2005
I apply Ricardo's principle of comparative advantage for a theory of factor substitutability in a model with a continuum of worker and job types. Highly skilled workers have a comparative advantage in complex jobs. The model satisfies the distance-dependent elasticity of substitution (DIDES) characteristic: substitutability between types declines with their skill distance. I analyze changes in relative wages due to human capital accumulation. The concept of a complexity dispersion parameter or compression elasticity is introduced. Empirical studies suggest its value to be equal to two: a 1 percent increase in the stock of human capital reduces the Mincerian return by 2 percent.
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