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Tahsin Saadi Sedik
COVID-19 has exacerbated concerns about the rise of the robots and other automation technologies. This paper analyzes empirically the impact of past major pandemics on robot adoption and inequality. First, we find that pandemic events accelerate robot adoption, especially when the health impact is severe and is associated with a significant economic downturn. Second, while robots may raise productivity, they could also increase inequality by displacing low-skilled workers. We find that following a pandemic, the increase in inequality over the medium term is larger for economies with higher robot density and where new robot adoption has increased more. Our results suggest that the concerns about the rise of the robots amid the COVID-19 pandemic seem justified.
Tahsin Saadi Sedik

industries in 40 countries, from Americas, Asia, and Europe, over 2000–2018. Our results suggest that that robot adoption (measured by new robot installations per 1000 employees) increases after pandemic events, especially when the health impact is severe and is associated with a significant economic downturn. While automation raises productivity (Brynjolfsson and McAfee, 2014; Acemoglu and Restrepo, 2018; Graetz and Michaels, 2018 ), it also increases inequality by displacing low-skilled workers ( Acemoglu and Restrepo, 2020 ). Indeed, we find that following a pandemic

Davide Furceri, Mr. Prakash Loungani, Mr. Jonathan David Ostry, and Pietro Pizzuto
This paper provides evidence on the impact of major epidemics from the past two decades on income distribution. The pandemics in our sample, even though much smaller in scale than COVID-19, have led to increases in the Gini coefficient, raised the income share of higher-income deciles, and lowered the employment-to-population ratio for those with basic education compared to those with higher education. We provide some evidence that the distributional consequences from the current pandemic may be larger than those flowing from the historical pandemics in our sample, and larger than those following typical recessions and financial crises.
Tahsin Saadi Sedik and Rui Xu

pandemics with the local projection method ( Jordà, 2005 ). We leverage the availability of both social unrest and pandemic data at high frequency and establish a direct link between exogenous pandemic events and civil disorder score at a monthly frequency. Second, using annual data we apply panel vector autoregressions (VAR) to explore the channels through which past major pandemics lead to social unrest in the medium term. In particular, we focus on inequality and economic growth as the two key channels. The results from local projections show that social unrest

Tahsin Saadi Sedik and Rui Xu
In this paper we analyze the dynamics among past major pandemics, economic growth, inequality, and social unrest. We provide evidence that past major pandemics, even though much smaller in scale than COVID-19, have led to a significant increase in social unrest by reducing output and increasing inequality. We also find that higher social unrest, in turn, is associated with lower ourput and higher inequality, pointing to a vicious cycle. Our results suggest that without policy measures, the COVID-19 pandemic will likely increase inequality, trigger social unrest, and lower future output in the years to come.
Davide Furceri, Mr. Prakash Loungani, Mr. Jonathan David Ostry, and Pietro Pizzuto
Major epidemics of the last two decades (SARS, H1N1, MERS, Ebola and Zika) have been followed by increases in inequality (Furceri, Loungani, Ostry and Pizzuto, 2020). In this paper, we show that the extent of fiscal consolidation in the years following the onset of these pandemics has played an important role in determining the extent of the increase in inequality. Episodes marked by extreme austerity—measured using either the government’s fiscal balance, health expenditures or redistribution—have been associated with an increase in the Gini measure of inequality three times as large as in episodes where fiscal policy has been more supportive. We survey the evidence thus far on the distributional impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, which suggests that inequality is likely to increase in the absence of strong policy actions. We review the case made by many observers (IMF 2020; Stiglitz 2020; Sandbu 2020b) that fiscal support should not be withdrawn prematurely despite understandable concerns about high public debt-to-GDP ratios.