We use data on imports of computer equipment for a large sample of countries between 1970 and 1990 to investigate the determinants of computer-technology adoption. We find strong evidence that computer adoption is associated with higher levels of human capital and with manufacturing trade openness vis-a-vis the OECD. We also find evidence that computer adoption is enhanced by high investment rates, good property rights protection, and a small share of agriculture in GDP. Finally, there is some evidence that adoption is reduced by a large share of government in GDP, and increased by a large share of manufacturing. After controlling for the above-mentioned variables, we do not find an independent role for the English- (or European-) language skills of the population.
We define a country's technology as a triple of eficiencies: one for unskilled labor, one for skilled labor, and one for capital. We find a negative cross–country correlation between the eficiency of unskilled labor and the eficiencies of skilled labor and capital. We interpret this finding as evidence of the existence of a World Technology Frontier. On this frontier, increases in the eficiency of unskilled labor are obtained at the cost of declines in the eficiency of skilled labor and capital. We estimate a model in which firms in each country optimally choose from a menu of technologies, i.e. they choose their technology subject to a Technology Frontier. The optimal choice of technology depends on the country's endowment of skilled and unskilled labor, so that the model is one of appropriate technology. The estimation allows for country–specific technology frontiers, due to barriers to technology adoption. We find that poor countries tend disproportionately to be inside the World Technology Frontier.
We present a joint study of the US structural transformation (the decline of agriculture as the dominating sector) and regional convergence (of Southern to Northern average wages). We find that empircally most of the regional convergence is attributable to the structural transformation: the nation-wide convergence of agricultural wages to non-agricultural wages, and the faster rate of transition of the Southern labor force from agricultural to non-agricultural jobs.