Essays on the Transmission of Human Capital and the Impact of Technological Change

Abstract: Essay 1: If grandparents have an independent impact on their grandchildren's schooling, intergenerational correlations estimated using two generations will underestimate the true level of intergenerational persistence in education. Recent research has found such multi-generational effects, but there is still no consensus on whether these estimates are due to a direct impact of grandparents on their grandchildren, or if they arise because of measurement error or model misspecification. In this paper, I estimate the intergenerational transmission arising from direct interactions with grandparents by comparing families where the grandparent died before the birth of the grandchild with those where the grandparent lived to meet and spend time with the grandchild. I find that direct effects contribute most, if not all, of the transmission coefficient across three generations.Essay 2: Sibling correlations in education and income have been extensively studied in the literature, and attempts to look inside the correlation have focused on family and neighborhood effects. In this paper I estimate sibling spillovers in education—that is, the effect of an older sibling's schooling on their younger sibling's schooling. To estimate causal effects, I use a compulsory school reform in Sweden in the 1950s to instrument for the older sibling's schooling. I am unable to detect statistically significant sibling spillovers, implying that any such spillovers must be relatively small.Essay 3: (with Che-Yuan Liang) The implementation of a copyright protection reform in Sweden in April 2009 suddenly increased the risk of being caught and prosecuted for illegal file sharing. This paper uses the reform to investigate the effects of illegal file sharing on music and movie sales. We find that the reform decreased Internet traffic by 16 percent during the subsequent six months. It also increased music sales by 36 percent. Furthermore, it had no significant effects on movie sales. We conclude that pirated music is a strong substitute to legal music whereas the substitutability is less for movies.Essay 4: (with Magnus Gustavsson) This paper shows that between 1975 and 2005, Sweden exhibited a pattern of job polarization with expansions of the highest and lowest paid jobs compared to middle-wage jobs. The most popular explanation for such a pattern is the hypothesis of "task-biased technological change", where technological progress reduces the demand for routine middle-wage jobs but increases the demand for non-routine jobs located at the tails of the job-wage distribution. Our estimates, however, do not endorse this explanation for the 1970s and 1980s. Stronger evidence for task biased technological change, albeit not conclusive, is found for the 1990s and 2000s. In particular, there is both a statistically and economically significant growth of non-routine jobs and a decline of routine jobs. No link between wage changes and routine tasks, as would be expected from task-biased technological change, can however be established.

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