The Returns to Computer Use Revisited: Have Pencils Changed the Wage Structure Too?

QUARTERLY JOURNAL OF ECONOMICS, Vol. 112, No. 1, February 1997

Posted: 30 Jul 1997

See all articles by John E. DiNardo

John E. DiNardo

University of Michigan at Ann Arbor - Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Jörn-Steffen Pischke

London School of Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR); IZA Institute of Labor Economics

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Abstract

Are the large measured wage differentials for on-the-job computer use a true return to computer skills, or do they just reflect that higher wage workers use computers on their jobs? We examine this issue with three large cross-sectional surveys from Germany. First, we confirm that the estimated wage differential associated with computer use in Germany is very similar to the U.S. differential. Second, we also measure large differentials for on-the-job use of calculators, telephones, pens or pencils, or for those who work while sitting down. We argue that these findings cast some doubt on the literal interpretation of the computer use wage differential as reflecting true returns to computer use or skill.

JEL Classification: J31

Suggested Citation

DiNardo, John and Pischke, Jörn-Steffen (Steve), The Returns to Computer Use Revisited: Have Pencils Changed the Wage Structure Too?. QUARTERLY JOURNAL OF ECONOMICS, Vol. 112, No. 1, February 1997, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=8661

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Jörn-Steffen (Steve) Pischke

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National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

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