Technology and Engineering

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Mr. Sakai Ando, Mr. Ravi Balakrishnan, Bertrand Gruss, Mr. Jean-Jacques Hallaert, La-Bhus Fah Jirasavetakul, Koralai Kirabaeva, Nir Klein, Ana Lariau, Lucy Qian Liu, Mr. Davide Malacrino, Mr. Haonan Qu, and Alexandra Solovyeva
In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic caused by far the largest shock to European economies since World War II. Yet, astonishingly, the EU unemployment rate had already declined to its pre-crisis level by 2021Q3, and in some countries the labor force participation rate is at a record high. This paper documents that the widespread use of job retention schemes has played an essential role in mitigating the pandemic’s impact on labor markets and thereby facilitating the restart of European economies after the initial lockdowns.
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.
Mariya Brussevich, Ms. Era Dabla-Norris, and Salma Khalid
Using individual level data on task composition at work for 30 advanced and emerging economies, we find that women, on average, perform more routine tasks than men?tasks that are more prone to automation. To quantify the impact on jobs, we relate data on task composition at work to occupation level estimates of probability of automation, controlling for a rich set of individual characteristics (e.g., education, age, literacy and numeracy skills). Our results indicate that female workers are at a significantly higher risk for displacement by automation than male workers, with 11 percent of the female workforce at high risk of being automated given the current state of technology, albeit with significant cross-country heterogeneity. The probability of automation is lower for younger cohorts of women, and for those in managerial positions.
Mariya Brussevich, Ms. Era Dabla-Norris, Christine Kamunge, Pooja Karnane, Salma Khalid, and Ms. Kalpana Kochhar
New technologies?digitalization, artificial intelligence, and machine learning?are changing the way work gets done at an unprecedented rate. Helping people adapt to a fast-changing world of work and ameliorating its deleterious impacts will be the defining challenge of our time. What are the gender implications of this changing nature of work? How vulnerable are women’s jobs to risk of displacement by technology? What policies are needed to ensure that technological change supports a closing, and not a widening, of gender gaps? This SDN finds that women, on average, perform more routine tasks than men across all sectors and occupations?tasks that are most prone to automation. Given the current state of technology, we estimate that 26 million female jobs in 30 countries (28 OECD member countries, Cyprus, and Singapore) are at a high risk of being displaced by technology (i.e., facing higher than 70 percent likelihood of being automated) within the next two decades. Female workers face a higher risk of automation compared to male workers (11 percent of the female workforce, relative to 9 percent of the male workforce), albeit with significant heterogeneity across sectors and countries. Less well-educated and older female workers (aged 40 and above), as well as those in low-skill clerical, service, and sales positions are disproportionately exposed to automation. Extrapolating our results, we find that around 180 million female jobs are at high risk of being displaced globally. Policies are needed to endow women with required skills; close gender gaps in leadership positions; bridge digital gender divide (as ongoing digital transformation could confer greater flexibility in work, benefiting women); ease transitions for older and low-skilled female workers.
Mr. Bulent Unel and Mr. Harm Zebregs
China's growth record since the start of its economic reforms in 1978 has been extraordinary. Yet, this impressive performance has been associated with an increasing regional income disparity. We use a recently developed nonparametric approach to analyze the variation in labor productivity growth across China's provinces. This approach imposes less structure on the data than the standard growth accounting framework and allows for a breakdown of labor productivity into capital deepening, efficiency gains, and technological progress. Like other studies before us, we do not find strong evidence of convergence in labor productivity across China's provinces during 1978-98. However, our results show that provinces converged in efficiency levels, while they diverged in capital deepening and technological progress.