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Open AccessArticle

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

1
Institute of Economics, University of Hohenheim, 70599 Stuttgart, Germany
2
Faculty of Geosciences, University of Utrecht, 3500 Utrecht, The Netherlands
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Sustainability 2018, 10(5), 1661; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10051661
Received: 2 March 2018 / Revised: 30 April 2018 / Accepted: 14 May 2018 / Published: 21 May 2018
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Impact of Technological Change on Employment, Skills and Earnings)
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. View Full-Text
Keywords: structural change; employment; labor; automation; automatability; occupation; robot; robotization; AI; computerization structural change; employment; labor; automation; automatability; occupation; robot; robotization; AI; computerization
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Vermeulen, B.; Kesselhut, J.; Pyka, A.; Saviotti, P.P. The Impact of Automation on Employment: Just the Usual Structural Change? Sustainability 2018, 10, 1661.

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