January 2003

IZA DP No. 685: Do We Need Computer Skills to Use a Computer? Evidence from Britain

published in: Labour, 2006, 20 (3), 505-532

Using data from the 1997 Skills Survey of the Employed British Workforce, we examine the returns to computer skills in Britain. Many researchers, using information on computer use, have concluded that wage differentials between computer users and non-users might, among others, be due to differences in the embodiment of computer skills. Using unique information on the importance, level of sophistication and effectiveness of computer use, we show that computer skills do not yield significant labour market returns for most types of use. Examining the returns to computer skills at different levels of sophistication of use, yields estimates suggesting returns to computer skills at the highest level of sophistication of use only.