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Endogenous skill-biased technology adoption: Evidence from China’s college enrollment expansion program

China’s college expansion program, which was implemented in 1999 significantly increased the share of college-educated workers in the urban labor force. We find that returns to education were not responsive to changes in local skill supply be- tween then and 2009. To explain the trend, we develop a model of endogenous technology adoption and predict that increasing the share of college-educated work- ers leads firms to adjust their use of production technology. We construct supply shocks in local labor markets based on policy-driven variations in the changes of college enrollment quotas across cities. Using panel data from over 20,000 large manufacturing firms, we find that an enlarged college-educated labor force causes skill-intensive firms to invest more in capital and R&D as well as employ more workers, evidence that supports the theory of endogenous technology adoption.

Authors: 
Shuaizhang Feng, Jinan University
Xiaoyu Xia, Chinese University of Hong Kong
Publication Date: 
December, 2018
HCEO Working Groups: 
Publication Status: 
Document Number: 
2018-099
File Description: 
First version, December 19, 2018