Mr. Andrew Berg, Lahcen Bounader, Nikolay Gueorguiev, Hiroaki Miyamoto, Mr. Kenji Moriyama, Ryota Nakatani, and Luis-Felipe Zanna
Many studies predict massive job losses and real wage decline as a result of the ongoing widespread automation of production, a trend that may be further aggravated by the COVID-19 crisis. Yet automation is also expected to raise productivity and output. How can we share the gains from automation more widely, for the benefit of all? And what are the attendant equity-efficiency trade-offs? We analyze this issue by considering the effects of fiscal policies that seek to redistribute the gains from automation and address income inequality. We use a dynamic general equilibrium model with monopolistic competition, including a novel specification linking corporate power to automation. While fiscal policy cannot eliminate the classic equity-efficiency trade-offs, it can help improve them, reducing inequality at small or no loss of output. This is particularly so when policy takes advantage of novel, less distortive transmission channels of fiscal policy created by the empirically observed link between corporate market power and automation.
Mr. Anton Korinek, Mr. Martin Schindler, and Joseph Stiglitz
Advances in artificial intelligence and automation have the potential to be labor-saving and to increase inequality and poverty around the globe. They also give rise to winner-takes-all dynamics that advantage highly skilled individuals and countries that are at the forefront of technological progress. We analyze the economic forces behind these developments and delineate domestic economic policies to mitigate the adverse effects while leveraging the potential gains from technological advances. We also propose reforms to the global system of governance that make the benefits of advances in artificial intelligence more inclusive.
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.
Cristian Alonso, Mr. Andrew Berg, Siddharth Kothari, Mr. Chris Papageorgiou, and Sidra Rehman
This paper considers the implications for developing countries of a new wave of technological change that substitutes pervasively for labor. It makes simple and plausible assumptions: the AI revolution can be modeled as an increase in productivity of a distinct type of capital that substitutes closely with labor; and the only fundamental difference between the advanced and developing country is the level of TFP. This set-up is minimalist, but the resulting conclusions are powerful: improvements in the productivity of “robots” drive divergence, as advanced countries differentially benefit from their initially higher robot intensity, driven by their endogenously higher wages and stock of complementary traditional capital. In addition, capital—if internationally mobile—is pulled “uphill”, resulting in a transitional GDP decline in the developing country. In an extended model where robots substitute only for unskilled labor, the terms of trade, and hence GDP, may decline permanently for the country relatively well-endowed in unskilled labor.
Mr. Arnoud W.A. Boot, Peter Hoffmann, Mr. Luc Laeven, and Mr. Lev Ratnovski
We study the effects of technological change on financial intermediation, distinguishing between innovations in information (data collection and processing) and communication (relationships and distribution). Both follow historic trends towards an increased use of hard information and less in-person interaction, which are accelerating rapidly. We point to more recent innovations, such as the combination of data abundance and artificial intelligence, and the rise of digital platforms. We argue that in particular the rise of new communication channels can lead to the vertical and horizontal disintegration of the traditional bank business model. Specialized providers of financial services can chip away activities that do not rely on access to balance sheets, while platforms can interject themselves between banks and customers. We discuss limitations to these challenges, and the resulting policy implications.
Mobile money services have rapidly expanded across emerging and developing economies and enabled new ways through which households and firms can conduct payments, save and send remittances. We explore how mobile money use can impact economic outcomes in India using granular data on transactions from Paytm, one of the largest mobile money service provider in India with over 400 million users. We exploit the period around the demonetization policy, which prompted a surge in mobile money adoption, and analyze how mobile money affects traditional risk-sharing arrangements. Our main finding is that mobile money use increases the resilience to shocks by dampening the impact of rainfall shocks on nightlights-based economic activity and household consumption. We complement these findings by conducting a firm survey around a phased targeting intervention which incentivized firms to adopt the mobile payment technology. Our results suggest that firms adopting mobile payments improved their sales after six-months of use, compared to other firms. We also elicit firms’ subjective expectations on future sales and find mobile payment adoption to be associated with lower subjective uncertainty and greater sales optimism.
Global smartphone sales may have peaked. After reaching nearly 1.5 billion units in 2016, global smartphone sales have since declined, contributing negatively to world trade in 2019 and suggesting that the global market may now be saturated. This paper develops a simple model to forecast smartphone sales, which shows that sales are likely to decline further. As tech companies shift to embedded services (cloud computing, content subscriptions, and financial services), the impact on global trade may also be shifting in favor of services exports mostly from advanced economies.
Mr. Carlos Mulas-Granados, Mr. Richard Varghese, Vizhdan Boranova, Alice deChalendar, and Judith Wallenstein
We exploit a survey data set that contains information on how 11,000 workers across advanced and emerging market economies perceive the main forces shaping the future of work. In general, workers feel more positive than negative about automation, especially in emerging markets. We find that negative perceptions about automation are prevalent among workers who are older, poorer, more exposed to job volatility, and from countries with higher levels of robot penetration. Perceptions over automation are positively viewed by workers with higher levels of job satisfaction, higher educational attainment, and from countries with stronger labor protection. Workers with positive perceptions of automation also tend to respond that re-education and retraining will be needed to adapt to rapidly evolving skill demands. These workers expect governments to have a role in shaping the future of work through protection of labor and new forms of social benefits. The demand for protection and benefits is more significant among women and workers that have suffered job volatility.