Do We Need Computer Skills to Use a Computer? Evidence from Britain

28 Pages Posted: 8 Sep 2006

See all articles by Lex Borghans

Lex Borghans

Maastricht University - Department of Economics; University of Maastricht - Research Centre for Education and the Labour Market (ROA); IZA Institute of Labor Economics

Bas ter Weel

University of Amsterdam - SEO Economic Research; Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA)

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Abstract

Using cross-section data from the 1997 Skills Survey of the Employed British Workforce, we examine the labour-market returns to self-assessed computer skills in Britain. Many researchers, using information on computer technology use, have concluded that wage differentials between computer users and non-users might, among others, be due to differences in the embodiment of computer skills. Using unique information on the importance, level of sophistication, and effectiveness of computer technology use, we show that computer skills do not yield significant labour-market returns for most types of use. Examining the returns to computer skills at different levels of sophistication of use yields estimates suggesting returns to computer skills at the highest level of sophistication of use only.

Suggested Citation

Borghans, Lex and ter Weel, Bas, Do We Need Computer Skills to Use a Computer? Evidence from Britain. Labour, Vol. 20, No. 3, pp. 505-532, September 2006, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=928994 or http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-9914.2006.00351.x

Lex Borghans

Maastricht University - Department of Economics ( email )

P.O. Box 616
Maastricht, 6200 MD
Netherlands

University of Maastricht - Research Centre for Education and the Labour Market (ROA) ( email )

P.O. Box 616
Maastricht, MD6200
Netherlands

IZA Institute of Labor Economics

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072
Germany

Bas Ter Weel (Contact Author)

University of Amsterdam - SEO Economic Research ( email )

Roetersstraat 29
Amsterdam, 1018 WB
Netherlands

Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA)

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072
Germany

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