Abstract

Current concern with the impact of new technologies on the wage structure motivates this study. We offer evidence that technology-skill and capital-skill (relative) complementarities existed in manufacturing early in this century and were related to the adoption of electric motors and particular production methods. Industries, from 1909 to 1929, with more capital per worker and a greater proportion of motive energy coming from purchased electricity employed relatively more educated blue-collar workers in 1940 and paid their production workers substantially more. We also find a strong positive association between changes in capital intensity and the nonproduction worker wage bill from 1909–1919 implying capital-skill complementarity as large as in recent years.

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