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Classical Labour-Displacing Technological Change: The Case of the US Insurance Industry

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  • Hecht, Jason
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    Abstract

    The post-war American insurance industry has undergone a profound change in the structure of demand for labour owing to massive mechanisation in the form of both automation and computerisation. This paper finds that the classical dynamic of labour-displacing technological change--as identified by Smith, Ricardo, Babbage, Marx, as well as Keynes and Schumpeter--has been a persistent feature of this sector. Moreover, while the loci of mechanisation initially focused on clerical employment, the drive for further cost reductions in labour-intensive professional activities including accounting, actuarial, insurance agents and underwriting have now become the focus of further mechanisation. Copyright 2001 by Oxford University Press.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Article provided by Oxford University Press in its journal Cambridge Journal of Economics.

    Volume (Year): 25 (2001)
    Issue (Month): 4 (July)
    Pages: 517-37

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    Handle: RePEc:oup:cambje:v:25:y:2001:i:4:p:517-37

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    Cited by:
    1. Andreas Reinstaller & Werner Hölzl, 2001. "The creative response in economic development: the case of information processing technologies in US manufacturing, 1870-1930," Working Papers geewp15, Vienna University of Economics Research Group: Growth and Employment in Europe: Sustainability and Competitiveness.
    2. Hölzl,Werner & Reinstaller,Andreas, 2003. "The Babbage principle after evolutionary economics," Research Memorandum 016, Maastricht University, Maastricht Economic Research Institute on Innovation and Technology (MERIT).

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