March 2004

IZA DP No. 1051: Experience and Technology Adoption

Vintage human capital models imply that young workers will be the primary adopters and beneficiaries of new technologies. Because technological progress in general, and computers in particular, may be skill-biased and because human capital increases over the lifecycle, technological change may favor experienced workers. This paper estimates the relationship between experience and technology adoption and the effect of technological change on the returns to experience. Estimates indicate that technological change is an important explanation for changes in experience premia. We find a complementarity between existing human capital and computer adoption and provide evidence that young workers are better able to adapt to new technologies. Our estimates also shed light on creative destruction models of the productivity slowdown.