Journal of Economic Growth

, Volume 9, Issue 3, pp 305–346 | Cite as

Coping with Technological Change: The Role of Ability in Making Inequality so Persistent

  • Yona Rubinstein
  • Daniel Tsiddon


This study provides an explanation to the evolution of wage inequality over the last 30 years and supports this explanation with evidence. A faster rate of technological progress introduces new unknown elements at the workplace. The need to cope with the unknown accentuates the role of ability and thus increases wage inequality within and between education groups. Inasmuch as education is an irreversible investment project the rise in within group inequality BOOSTS UP the rise of between group inequality. Guided by this theory we turn to the PSID for evidence. Using parents' education to approximate child's ability we show the following set of results: (a) Controlling for education of the child, parents' education contributed much more in the 1980s to his wage growth than in the 1970s. (b) The correlation between the parents' and the child's education increases from the 1970s to the 1980s. (c) The return to college education for an individual with no ability rents did not change—it remains steady at the 23 percent. (d) Facts (a)–(c) CANNOT be attributed to the impact of parent's income. It is parents' education and not parents' income that is more relevant for son's economic outcomes in the 1980s.

human capital income distribution ability technological progress intergenerational mobility 


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  • Yona Rubinstein
    • 1
    • 2
  • Daniel Tsiddon
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.The Berglas School of EconomicsTel Aviv UniversityTel AvivIsrael
  2. 2.The Center for Economic Policy ResearchLondon

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