How does technological innovation and diffusion affect inter-industry workers' mobility?

Elisabetta Magnani*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


Does technological change amount to accumulation of general, and so transferable, human capital? To approach this question I rely on a theoretical framework in which the "technology distance" between industries reduces inter-industry transferability of workers' skill. Empirically, I use US panel data on individual intra-industry and inter-industry mobility decisions between 1982 and 1990, a period of rapid technological change in all manufacturing sectors, to estimate a mixed logit econometric specification that does not rely on the IIA assumption. I find support to the main idea that technological innovation and diffusion have different effects on workers' industrial mobility patterns. "Knowledge spillovers", differently from "rent spillovers", indeed boost the chances of workers' inter-industry mobility. Surprisingly, this is more consistently so in low-tech industries than in high-tech industries. Consistently with the expectations developed in the theoretical framework, in low-tech industries skilled workers respond more sharply to technology diffusion than unskilled workers.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)16-37
Number of pages22
JournalStructural Change and Economic Dynamics
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2009
Externally publishedYes


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