Elisabetta Gentile, Sébastien Miroudot, Gaaitzen De Vries, Konstantin M. Wacker, 08 October 2020

Rapid improvements in robot capabilities have fuelled concerns about the implications for jobs. This column examines the effect robots have had on jobs in industries across high-income and emerging countries from 2005 to 2015. The rise in robot adoption relates to a fall in the employment share of occupations that are intensive in routine tasks. This relation is observed in high-income countries, but not in emerging market and transition economies.

Mai Dao, Mitali Das, Zsoka Koczan, 20 July 2020

The declining labour share of income is a global phenomenon that has affected primarily low-skilled and middle-skilled workers. This column examines the effects of trade and technology on the labour shares of different skill groups using a new dataset covering both advanced and developing economies. Both trade and technology have contributed to the declining labour share of middle-skilled workers but have had little effect on low-skilled and high-skilled labour. Policies should be designed with the goal of spreading the benefits of globalisation to the entire labour force.

Michael Koch, Ilya Manuylov, Marcel Smolka, 01 July 2019

The rise of robots has sparked an intense debate about the labour market effects of their adoption. This column explores differences in robot adoption across firms and analyses the labour market effects of robot adoption at the firm level. It reveals a productivity-enhancing reallocation of labour and market shares across firms, with robot-adopting firms creating new job opportunities and expanding their scale of operations, while non-adopters experience negative output and employment effects in the face of tougher competition.

Cevat Giray Aksoy, Ralph De Haas, 21 January 2019

Technological innovation can help to shift labour from sectors with low levels of productivity (such as agriculture) to higher-productivity sectors (manufacturing and, increasingly, services), with a profound impact on the nature of work and the types of skills that are in demand in the workplace. This column examines how this transformation is impacting jobs and employment across emerging Europe. The findings suggest that robotisation can explain only 13% of the total decline in the employment rate observed in these countries between 2010 and 2016.

David Bloom, Mathew McKenna, Klaus Prettner, 17 December 2018

Future global employment needs are of central importance for policymakers. This column estimates that, based on growth in the working-age population, labour force participation rates, and unemployment, about three quarters of a billion jobs will need to be created in 2010–2030. It also discusses how automation will add to the number of jobs required.

Hideki Nakamura, Joseph Zeira, 11 December 2018

The fear that technological innovation will increase unemployment is not new, and various theories in response suggest technology does not necessarily pose a threat to jobs. This column goes one step further, arguing that because automation requires rising wages and that requires increasing the set of labour tasks, innovation should ultimately reduce unemployment.

Simeon Djankov, Federica Saliola, 23 November 2018

Over the last century, technology has created more jobs than it has displaced. This column presents an overview of ways in which technology and innovation are changing the nature of work, leading to demand for advanced cognitive skills and greater adaptability among workers. The rise of platform marketplaces is also changing the way people work and the terms on which they work, which requires a rethinking of social protection systems.

Mitali Das, 13 November 2018

Evidence that routinisation lies behind labour market polarisation has been documented for many developed economies, but less is known about its impact in emerging markets. This column draws on national censuses and labour surveys for 160 countries between 1960 and 2015 to argue that although large-scale labour market dislocation is not imminent, emerging markets are becoming increasingly exposed to routinisation – and thus labour market polarisation – from the long-term effects of structural transformation and the onshoring of routine-intensive jobs.

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. 

Mai Dao, Mitali Das, Zsoka Koczan, Weicheng Lian, 08 September 2017

In both developing and advanced economies, labour’s share of income has been declining since the 1970s, presenting a puzzle for classical trade theory. This column proposes that the globalisation of trade and ‘routinisation’ of tasks can reconcile declining labour shares in both advanced and developing economies. Countries with higher initial exposure to routinisation and a greater increase in participation in global value chains are shown to have experienced stronger declines in the labour income share of medium-skilled workers.

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