Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/10419/20551
Authors: 
Chin, Aimee
Juhn, Chinhui
Thompson, Peter
Year of Publication: 
2004
Series/Report no.: 
IZA Discussion paper series 1285
Abstract: 
Using a large, individual-level wage data set, we examine the impact of a major technological innovation – the steam engine – on skill demand and the wage structure in the merchant shipping industry. We find that the technical change created a new demand for skilled workers, the engineers, while destroying demand for workers with skills relevant only to sail. It had a deskilling effect on production work – able-bodied seamen (essentially, artisans) were replaced by unskilled engine room operatives. On the other hand, mates and ablebodied seamen employed on steam earned a premium relative to their counterparts on sail. A wholesale switch from sail to steam would increase the 90/10 wage ratio by 40%, with most of the rise in inequality coming from the creation of the engineer occupation.
Subjects: 
wage inequality
skill premium
skill-biased technical change
JEL: 
H52
J62
I21
Document Type: 
Working Paper

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