CEPII, Recherche et Expertise sur l'economie mondiale
Techies, Trade, and Skill-Biased Productivity


James Harrigan
Ariell Reshef
Farid Toubal

 Highlights :
  • We develop a methodology to estimate both Hicks-neutral and Skill-biased productivity across firms.
  • We apply this to administrative data on firms in the entire French private sector in 2009-2013.
  • We estimate the effects of ICT, R&D, exporting and importing on the evolution of productivity.
  • This helps explain relative demand shifts towards skilled labor at the firm level and at the aggregate level.

 Résumé :
We study the impact of firm level choices of ICT, R&D, exporting and importing on the evolution of productivity and its bias towards skilled occupations. We use a novel measure of the propensity of a firm to engage in technology investment and adoption: its employment of workers with STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) skills and experience who we call “techies”. We develop a methodology for estimating firm level productivity that allows us to measure both Hicks-neutral and skill-augmenting technology differences, and apply this to administrative data on French firms in the entire private sector from 2009 to 2013. We find that techies and importing of intermediate inputs raise skill-biased productivity, while imports also raise Hicks-neutral productivity. We also find that higher firm-level skill biased productivity raises low-skill employment even as it raises the ratio of skilled to unskilled workers. This is because of the cost-reducing effect of higher productivity. The techie and trade effects are large, and can account for much of the aggregate increase in skilled employment from 2009 to 2013.

 Mots-clés : Productivity | Skill Bias | Skill Augmenting | Labor Demand | Outsourcing | Globalization | R&D | ICT | Techies

 JEL : d24, f16, f66, j24, 052
CEPII Working Paper
N°2018-21, December 2018

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 Domaines d'expertise

Commerce & Mondialisation
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