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10/05/2017 | Robots and Jobs: Evidence from US Labor Markets

Daron Acemoglu, Pascual Restrepo

On average, the arrival of one new industrial robot in a local labor market coincides with an employment drop of 5.6 workers.


With America's workers already squeezed by forces ranging from international competition to offshoring to new information technologies, concern is growing about the impact of robots on jobs and wages.

In Robots and Jobs: Evidence from U.S. Labor Markets  Daron Acemoglu and Pascual Restrepo find that deployment of robots reduces employment and wages, but they caution that it is difficult to measure net labor market effects. 

Since at least the start of the Industrial Revolution, economists and policy makers have pondered how relentless technological advances might impact labor markets. John Maynard Keynes warned in 1929 of coming "technological unemployment" and Wassily Leontief predicted several decades later that "labor will become less and less important." In recent years, a range of studies has estimated that nearly half of all U.S. workers' jobs will be at risk of being automated over the next two decades, and noted that this risk extends beyond laborers to include many white-collar occupations with substantial routine components.

The researchers note that automation has several effects on the labor market. It may displace the workers performing a particular job in a particular industry, leading to reduced employment opportunities and wages for workers who historically held such positions. However, other sectors and occupations may expand to soak up labor freed from the tasks performed by machines, and it is even possible that productivity gains due to new automation technologies may expand employment possibilities in the industries in which they are deployed.

NBER (Estados Unidos)


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