Pandemics and Automation: Will the Lost Jobs Come Back?

Author/Editor:

Tahsin Saadi Sedik ; Jiae Yoo

Publication Date:

January 15, 2021

Electronic Access:

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Disclaimer: IMF Working Papers describe research in progress by the author(s) and are published to elicit comments and to encourage debate. The views expressed in IMF Working Papers are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the views of the IMF, its Executive Board, or IMF management.

Summary:

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.

Series:

Working Paper No. 2021/011

Frequency:

regular

English

Publication Date:

January 15, 2021

ISBN/ISSN:

9781513566849/1018-5941

Stock No:

WPIEA2021011

Format:

Paper

Pages:

26

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