A famous quote in the real estate industry states, “Technology will not replace real estate agents, but real estate agents with technology will.” And new research conducted by the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco suggests that those agents with technology and education will likely earn greater profits than the ones who don’t incorporate the Web and technology into their business plans.

Workers who used computers during a test period of 1984 and 1989 earned about 10 percent to 20 percent more than workers who did not use computers, according to research cited in “The Computer Evolution.”

The study used data from five surveys, covering the period 1984-2001. The two key aspects of computer evolution examined were the spread of personal computers (PCs) at work and the evolving wage differences between people who use computers and those who don’t use them.

Since the introduction of the IBM PC in 1981, desktop computers have become standard in most workplaces. The spread of computers has been relatively uniform across labor force groups. However, the highly educated received higher wage returns associated with computer use.

The study noted that research of wages during the 1970s, 80s and 90s indirectly suggests that rising computer use explains a substantial portion of the rising wage gaps between highly educated and less educated workers over these three decades.

“Our findings confirm that workers who use computers earn more than otherwise similar workers who do not. We also find that this effect has been especially large for highly educated workers in recent years,” the study concluded.

The research also found that individuals and companies with the most to gain by new technology are the first to adopt it.

The study plotted how the estimated return to computer use at work among workers with bachelor’s degrees and those without has changed over time. “For the full sample of workers, the return to computer use reached a peak in 1993, with a 24.2 percent wage advantage over otherwise similar workers,” researchers found. The return to computer use declined overall to 19.2 percent in 2001.


Send tips or a Letter to the Editor to jessica@inman.com or call (510) 658-9252, ext. 133.

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