Ideally, “two identical autarkic economies” experience different computer prices.
Quote: (p. 1322)
Labor 20120111 ALM 2003
Autor, Levy, and Murnane (2003) “The Skill Content of RecentTechnological Change: An Empirical Exploration” Critique in Three Slides Betsy Williams 1/11/12
The Good• The authors state what the ideal experiment would be to test their hypothesis, then compare their framework to that ideal.• Very explicit explanations of theory, predictions, and evidence• Authors perform many robustness checks, including by gender, manufacturing industry, different kinds of computer capital, industry characteristics, etc.
The Bad• The authors make causal claims, yet their panel data has very few time points. Fundamentally correlational.• Claim: “the declining price of computer capital” is the “causal force” skill demand change, but study never measures or analyzes computing capital prices. Instead proxies with actual adoption of computers, by industry.• Claim: price of computing power exogenous. – PC development depended on human capital levels. – Lower prices from volume increases? (returns to scale) – More computer skills in a given occupation/industry may make it easier for a technologist to develop tools efficient for that occupation/industry.
The Next Paper to Write…• Unionization is never mentioned, but we might expect it to change how much industries actually shift job tasks.• Why should more educated workers be favored by these task shifts? I would prefer to see evidence about the labor force’s skills by education at each point in time (ASVAB?).• Possible other ways to get job task data: H-1B visa applications, ADA compliance lawsuits