NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
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Trading Up and the Skill Premium

Nir Jaimovich, Sergio Rebelo, Arlene Wong, Miao Ben Zhang

NBER Working Paper No. 25931
Issued in June 2019
NBER Program(s):Economic Fluctuations and Growth Program

We study the impact on the skill premium of increases in the quality of goods consumed by households (“trading up”). Our empirical work shows that high- quality goods are more intensive in skilled labor than low-quality goods and that household spending on high-quality goods rises with income. We propose a model consistent with these facts. This model accounts for the past rise in the skill premium with more plausible rates of skill-biased technical change than those required by the canonical model. It also implies that an expansion of the skilled labor force reduces the skill premium by much less than in the canonical model.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w25931

Forthcoming: Trading Up and the Skill Premium, Nir Jaimovich, Sergio Rebelo, Arlene Wong, Miao Ben Zhang. in NBER Macroeconomics Annual 2019, volume 34, Eichenbaum, Hurst, and Parker. 2019

 
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