We distinguish learning in a static environment from that in a dynamic environment to show the existence of an important interaction between the development of new technologies and human capital accumulation. Since technological progress creates a more dynamic and uncertain environment, it not only increases the rewards to education and ability but also enhances adaptive skills. The latter in turn determine how effectively new technologies are utilized in production because they help the workforce to innovate and improve new technologies. Thus, the adaptive skills of a workforce are an important link with which inventions and innovations play complementary roles in technological progress. Our results suggest why countries that have comparable levels of aggregate human capital and that are in similar stages of development may differ significantly in how successful they are in implementing new technologies. They also show how the intergenerational transmission of knowledge evolves endogenously with technological change. If technology changes rapidly during the process of development, learning fosters the intergenerational propogation of adaptive skills. In contrast, if technological progress is slow during development, the education of the young reinforces the learning of long-held norms.
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Last update: July 19, 2001