Returns to ICT Skills
How important is mastering information and communication technology (ICT) on modern labor markets? We answer this question with unique data on ICT skills tested in 19 countries. Our two instrumental-variable models exploit technologically induced variation in broadband Internet availability that gives rise to variation in ICT skills across countries and German municipalities. We find statistically and economically significant returns to ICT skills. For instance, an increase in ICT skills similar to the gap between an average-performing and a top-performing country raises earnings by about 8 percent. One mechanism driving positive returns is selection into occupations with high abstract task content.
Do Digital Information Technologies Help Unemployed Job Seekers Find a Job? Evidence from the Broadband Internet Expansion in Germany
European Economic Review,
This paper studies effects of the introduction of a new digital mass medium on reemployment of unemployed job seekers. We combine data on high-speed (broadband) internet availability at the local level with German individual register data. We address endogeneity by exploiting technological peculiarities that affected the roll-out of high-speed internet. The results show that high-speed internet improves reemployment rates after the first months in unemployment. This is confirmed by complementary analyses with individual survey data suggesting that internet access increases online job search and the number of job interviews after a few months in unemployment.
The Internet Effects on Sex Crime Offenses – Evidence from the Broadband Internet Expansion in Germany
Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization,
This paper studies the effects of the introduction of a new mass medium on sex crime in Germany. I use unique data on criminal offenses and broadband internet measured at the municipal level to shed light on this issue. In order to address endogeneity in broadband internet availability, I exploit technical peculiarities at the regional level that determine the roll-out of high-speed internet. Results provide evidence of a substitution effect of internet exposure on sex crime. The substitution effect is neither driven by differences in reporting behavior, nor by matching processes at the victim and offender side. This suggests that the consumption of extreme media plays an important role in explaining the documented high-speed internet effect.
Skills, Earnings, and Employment: Exploring Causality in the Estimation of Returns to Skills
Large-scale Assessments in Education,
Ample evidence indicates that a person’s human capital is important for success on the labor market in terms of both wages and employment prospects. However, unlike the efforts to identify the impact of school attainment on labor-market outcomes, the literature on returns to cognitive skills has not yet provided convincing evidence that the estimated returns can be causally interpreted. Using the PIAAC Survey of Adult Skills, this paper explores several approaches that aim to address potential threats to causal identification of returns to skills, in terms of both higher wages and better employment chances. We address measurement error by exploiting the fact that PIAAC measures skills in several domains. Furthermore, we estimate instrumental-variable models that use skill variation stemming from school attainment and parental education to circumvent reverse causation. Results show a strikingly similar pattern across the diverse set of countries in our sample. In fact, the instrumental-variable estimates are consistently larger than those found in standard least-squares estimations. The same is true in two “natural experiments,” one of which exploits variation in skills from changes in compulsory-schooling laws across U.S. states. The other one identifies technologically induced variation in broadband Internet availability that gives rise to variation in ICT skills across German municipalities. Together, the results suggest that least-squares estimates may provide a lower bound of the true returns to skills in the labor market.