New research publication

REELER researchers from University of Hohenheim publish a study on the impact of automation on employment

2018.06.13 | Jessica Sorenson

The Impact of Automation on Employment: Just the Usual Structural Change?

Ben Vermeulen, Jan Kesselhut, Andreas Pyka, and Pier Paolo Saviotti

Abstract: We study the projected impact of automation on employment in the forthcoming decade, both at the macro-level and in actual (types of) sectors. Hereto, we unite an evolutionary economic model of multisectoral structural change with labor economic theory. We thus get a comprehensive framework of how displacement of labor in sectors of application is compensated by intra- and intersectoral countervailing effects and notably mopped up by newly created, labor-intensive sectors. We use several reputable datasets with expert projections on employment in occupations affected by automation (and notably by the introduction of robotics and AI) to pinpoint which and how sectors and occupations face employment shifts. This reveals how potential job loss due to automation in “applying” sectors is counterbalanced by job creation in “making” sectors as well in complementary and quaternary, spillover sectors. Finally, we study several macro-level scenarios on employment and find that mankind is facing “the usual structural change” rather than the “end of work”. We provide recommendations on policy instruments that enhance the dynamic efficiency of structural change.

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