Beyond RRTC

Beyond RRTC

Beyond RRTC : Improving identification of the trade vs. technology effects using firm-level data that allow to identify the role of firm-heterogeneity in explaining job and wage polarization and different specialization patterns in response to these shocks

About the project

The impact of new technologies on societies and on the gradual substitution of human with machine work is a central topic for both hard and soft sciences. The interest of economists for these topics has been growing exponentially to explain earning inequalities, job polarization, deindustrialization and the changing nature of clerical and manufacturing jobs. These macroeconomic facts are well explained by a simple and powerful theory: the replacement of humans with automated machines, robots and computing devices in performing routine tasks, the so-called routine replacing technical change (RRTC, see Autor et al., 2003). However, the way in which RRTC operates at more disaggregated levels of analysis is not well understood as it is not clear how RRTC interact with concomitant demand and supply shocks at both the local, sectoral and macro level. Among these concomitant factors, the literature has emphasized, but rarely assessed in a unified way, the importance of globalization and the rise of China; organizational changes as opposed to purely new technologies; changes in the workforce composition and in the assignment of workers to tasks; economies of agglomeration and technological specialization. 

The aim of this project is to develop a research agenda at UCA whose goal is to improve the identification of the trade vs. technology effects using firm-level data that allow to identify the role of firm-heterogeneity in explaining job and wage polarization and different specialization patterns in response to these shocks. The project team research agenda is scheduled over a year and encompasses two main deliverables, the setting of longer term agenda and the organization of a workshop to discuss our preliminary findings with outstanding scholars in this discipline.

These interactions will allow to improve an ongoing research project at UCA, but also to develop new collaborations that would deepen the breath and the scope of the research.

Principal investigator

 , OFCE Sciences-Po and SKEMA Business School

Project's partners 

  • Catherine LAFFINEUR, GREDEG 
  • Flora BELLONE, GREDEG
  • Lionel NESTA, GREDEG

Project duration 

March 2017 - November 2017

Related documentation 

Article "The Fall of the Labor Share and the Rise of Superstar Firms" (May 1, 2017 ), David Autor, MIT and NBER