Origins of labor market changes in the transition to an information economy : wage structure, employment, and occupation transformation in Taiwan after 1990
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Labor market change in societies where an information economy is evolving, is a central area of concern for information society scholars today. While there has been considerable research conducted on cases of developed countries, research on labor market changes during a transition to an information economy outside of the advanced industrial economies is scarce. Thus, this dissertation proposes to examine the changes in wage, employment, and occupation structure that take place when an NIC, such as Taiwan, ushers in an information economy, and to explore the reasons behind these changes. This dissertation combined the historical, policy, and statistical analyses and concluded that the transformation from labor intensive manufacturing to an information intensive economy, as arranged by the Taiwanese government due to its own political and governing purposes, and also in the context of international political and economic circumstances, determined Taiwan’s economic resource arrangement, which resulted in an increasingly unbalanced labor market in terms of wage distribution, unemployment, and occupation structure. This transformation changed and shaped the structure of the labor market to benefit workers more skilled with information, more professional, having higher level knowledge and a higher level of education, while an increasing amount of white-collar and service workers began earning comparatively low wages. At the same time the demand for blue-collar and lower skill workers severely declined. Moreover, the total labor demand of information manufacturing and information intensive service is much less than that of traditional labor intensive manufacturing, resulting in Taiwan’s increasing unemployment problem. Among these processes, many different social, political, policy, and economic factors interacted and collectively determined this result. Among them, the role of the state in shaping Taiwan’s information economy in general and the labor market situation in particular did matter considerably.