Discussion paper

DP15228 Capital-Skill Complementarity and Inequality: Twenty Years After

A seminal work of Krusell, Ohanian, Ríos-Rull and Violante (2000) demonstrated that the capital-skill-complementarity mechanism is capable of explaining a U-shaped skill premium pattern over the 1963-1992 period in the US economy. However, the world experienced an unprecedented technological change since then. In this paper, we ask how the finding of their article change if we consider more recent data. First, we find that over the 1992-2017 period, the skill premium pattern changed dramatically, from a U-shaped to monotonically increasing, however, the capital-skill complementarity framework remains remarkably successful in explaining the data. Second, we use this framework to construct a projection, and we conclude that the skill premium will continue to grow in the US economy.


Maliar, L, S Maliar and I Tsener (2020), ‘DP15228 Capital-Skill Complementarity and Inequality: Twenty Years After‘, CEPR Discussion Paper No. 15228. CEPR Press, Paris & London. https://cepr.org/publications/dp15228