Sangmin Aum, Tim Lee, Yongseok Shin, 04 July 2018

The past three decades have seen unprecedented technological development, with major impacts on labour markets and the economy as a whole. This column investigates how automation and the increased use of computers has affected productivity trends over the last three decades. Results suggest that automation has had a strong effect on slowing down aggregate productivity, despite raising it at the micro level. This is due to the reallocation of factor inputs across occupations and industries. 

Gaetano Basso, Giovanni Peri, Ahmed Rahman, 12 January 2018

The US and Europe have both seen wage polarisation in the last three decades, in parallel with increasing technical automation. This column analyses the impact of immigration on this wage divergence via its effect on the labour supply side. It finds that immigration partially reverses natives’ polarisation of employment opportunities and wages by expanding aggregate demand and allowing natives to move to better paying occupations. Policies to reduce low-skilled migration with the aim of favouring native middle-class labour market opportunities may in fact do the opposite.

Katja Mann, Lukas Püttmann, 07 December 2017

Researchers disagree over whether automation is creating or destroying jobs. This column introduces a new indicator of automation constructed by applying a machine learning algorithm to classify patents, and uses the result to investigate which US regions and industries are most exposed to automation. This indicator suggests that automation has created more jobs in the US than it has destroyed.

Wolfgang Dauth, Sebastian Findeisen, Jens Südekum, Nicole Woessner, 19 September 2017

Recent research has shown that industrial robots have caused severe job and earnings losses in the US. This column explores the impact of robots on the labour market in Germany, which has many more robots than the US and a much larger manufacturing employment share. Robots have had no aggregate effect on German employment, and robot exposure is found to actually increase the chances of workers staying with their original employer. This effect seems to be largely down to efforts of work councils and labour unions, but is also the result of fewer young workers entering manufacturing careers.

Yoko Konishi, 15 September 2017

The latest AI boom that started in 2012 shows no signs of fading, thanks to the recent availability of big data and widespread adoption of deep learning technologies. This column argues that this new combination of data and technology offers an unprecedented opportunity for society. AI will develop sustainably only if systems are in place to collect relevant data, and AI is not adopted for its own sake.

James Bessen, 22 September 2016

A popular notion is that computer automation leads to major job losses. However, this ignores the dynamic economic responses that involve both changing demand and inter-occupation substitution. Using US data, this column explores the effect of automation on employment growth for detailed occupational categories. Computer-using occupations have had greater job growth to date, while those using few computers suffer greater computer-related losses. The real challenge posed by automation is developing a workforce with the skills to use new technologies.

Carl Benedikt Frey, Ebrahim Rahbari, 25 March 2016

Back in the 1960s, many thought that the computer and automation would herald less work and more leisure, but the debate has changed. These days, economists debate the extent to which jobs will be lost due to technological innovation. This column explores whether technology is becoming more labour-saving and less job-creating. Concerns over automation causing mass unemployment seem exaggerated, at least for now. 

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