Americans who are worried about robots taking their jobs are just “fearmongers“Who’s watched too many movies, right?
But new research shows the rise of robots may not be as good for workers as some claim. Automation could have positive effects on economic growth and productivity, economists say, but workers may not reap the rewards.
“Exposure to robots has had negative effects on employment, leading some workers to drop out of the labor force and increase unemployment,” wrote University of Pittsburgh economics professor Osea Giuntella, Yi Lu of Tsinghua University and Tianyi Wang of the University of Toronto. in a national economic research office paper released earlier this month.
Economists examined the effects of industrial robots on China’s labor market using data from more than 15,000 families and found that the workforce struggled to ‘adapt’ to the dramatic changes provided by robotics.
“Exposure to robots led to lower labor market participation (-1%), employment (-7.5%) and hourly wages (-9%) of Chinese workers,” they said. they wrote. “At the same time, among those who continued to work, exposure to robots increased the number of hours worked by 14%.”
China has been betting on robotics and job automation for more than a decadeespecially in the industrial sector. The country has more industrial robots than any other, and this year alone it surpassed the United States in the number of industrial robots per capita, according to the International Federation of Robotics.
But for Chinese workers, the rise of robots has not always been beneficial. Take the example of Apple’s main iPhone supplier, Foxconn, which replaced more than 400,000 human jobs between 2012 and 2016 with robots in a push for automation.
Economists said the evidence for near-term labor market problems caused by robotics in China is strong and argued it was particularly bad news for developing economies.
The excessive burden of the developing world
Workers in the developing world are likely to feel the brunt of the robotics and automation boom in the near term, economists said.
Many emerging market economies rely heavily on agriculture and manufacturing, where automation and robotics are more likely to displace workers. And with a higher proportion of workers in emerging markets having only a high school education or less, it will take time for many to acquire the skills necessary to benefit from the new jobs brought by robotics, AI and automation.
“The implications of robotization in emerging markets for jobs, growth and inequality could be profound,” the economists wrote. “Without job creation, automation, digitalization and labour-saving technologies can foster inequality.”
They went on to say that developing countries could face a decision between “increased productivity and a potential increase in economic inequality and social unrest” if they choose to continue automating jobs with robots.
Finally, they said there is still research to be done on whether long-term productivity improvements through robotics and automation will “one day translate into job growth,” but for l For now, workers will likely continue to lose jobs to these new technologies.
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