IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this article

Automation and the employment elasticity of fiscal policy


  • Ebeke, Christian H.
  • Eklou, Kodjovi M.


This paper investigates whether automation (the use of industrial robots in production) makes fiscal policy less powerful for stimulating job creation. It posits that a fiscal stimulus will lead to fewer new jobs if the supplementary demand that it creates can be met by using more robots in production processes. Using data for 18 European countries over recent decades, including data on the use of industrial robots, our results show three main findings. First, the pace of automation for the average country in the sample has halved the sensitivity of employment to fiscal stimulus. Second, manufacturing industry employment reacts less to fiscal stimulus in the presence of rapid automation as the average substituability between labor and machines is relatively higher. Third, low-skill jobs as well as women employment are less sensitive to fiscal stimulus in the presence of rapid robot use. We conclude that the effectiveness of fiscal policy in expanding job creation faces an important challenge in a world undergoing structural changes such as the rapid pace of automation.

Suggested Citation

  • Ebeke, Christian H. & Eklou, Kodjovi M., 2023. "Automation and the employment elasticity of fiscal policy," Journal of Macroeconomics, Elsevier, vol. 75(C).
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:jmacro:v:75:y:2023:i:c:s0164070423000022
    DOI: 10.1016/j.jmacro.2023.103502

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: Full text for ScienceDirect subscribers only

    File URL:
    LibKey link: if access is restricted and if your library uses this service, LibKey will redirect you to where you can use your library subscription to access this item

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to search for a different version of it.

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Christopher J. Nekarda & Valerie A. Ramey, 2011. "Industry Evidence on the Effects of Government Spending," American Economic Journal: Macroeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 3(1), pages 36-59, January.
    2. Daniel J. Wilson, 2012. "Fiscal Spending Jobs Multipliers: Evidence from the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 4(3), pages 251-282, August.
    3. Daron Acemoglu & Pascual Restrepo, 2018. "Modeling Automation," AEA Papers and Proceedings, American Economic Association, vol. 108, pages 48-53, May.
    4. Elva Bova & Christina Kolerus & Sampawende Tapsoba, 2015. "A fiscal job? An analysis of fiscal policy and the labor market," IZA Journal of Labor Policy, Springer;Forschungsinstitut zur Zukunft der Arbeit GmbH (IZA), vol. 4(1), pages 1-17, December.
    5. Daron Acemoglu & Pascual Restrepo, 2019. "Automation and New Tasks: How Technology Displaces and Reinstates Labor," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 33(2), pages 3-30, Spring.
    6. Kangni Kpodar, Stefania Fabrizio, and Kodjovi Eklou, 2022. "Export Growth - Fuel Price Nexus in Developing Countries: Real or False Concern?," The Energy Journal, International Association for Energy Economics, vol. 0(Number 3).
    7. Òscar Jordà & Alan M. Taylor, 2016. "The Time for Austerity: Estimating the Average Treatment Effect of Fiscal Policy," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 126(590), pages 219-255, February.
    8. Stefania Albanesi & Aysegul Sahin, 2018. "The Gender Unemployment Gap," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 30, pages 47-67, October.
    9. Gregory, Terry & Salomons, Anna & Zierahn, Ulrich, 2016. "Racing With or Against the Machine? Evidence from Europe," VfS Annual Conference 2016 (Augsburg): Demographic Change 145843, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.
    10. Coen N. Teulings & Nikolay Zubanov, 2014. "Is Economic Recovery A Myth? Robust Estimation Of Impulse Responses," Journal of Applied Econometrics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 29(3), pages 497-514, April.
    11. Monacelli, Tommaso & Perotti, Roberto & Trigari, Antonella, 2010. "Unemployment fiscal multipliers," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 57(5), pages 531-553, July.
    12. David H. Autor & Frank Levy & Richard J. Murnane, 2003. "The skill content of recent technological change: an empirical exploration," Proceedings, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, issue Nov.
    13. David H. Autor & David Dorn, 2013. "The Growth of Low-Skill Service Jobs and the Polarization of the US Labor Market," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 103(5), pages 1553-1597, August.
    14. Daron Acemoglu & Pascual Restrepo, 2020. "Robots and Jobs: Evidence from US Labor Markets," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 128(6), pages 2188-2244.
    15. Alan J. Auerbach & Yuriy Gorodnichenko, 2013. "Corrigendum: Measuring the Output Responses to Fiscal Policy," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 5(3), pages 320-322, August.
    16. Egana-delSol, Pablo & Bustelo, Monserrat & Ripani, Laura & Soler, Nicolas & Viollaz, Mariana, 2022. "Automation in Latin America: Are Women at Higher Risk of Losing Their Jobs?," Technological Forecasting and Social Change, Elsevier, vol. 175(C).
    17. Daron Acemoglu & Pascual Restrepo, 2018. "The Race between Man and Machine: Implications of Technology for Growth, Factor Shares, and Employment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 108(6), pages 1488-1542, June.
    18. Mariya Brussevich & Era Dabla-Norris & Christine Kamunge & Pooja Karnane & Salma Khalid & Kalpana Kochhar, 2018. "Gender, Technology, and the Future of Work," IMF Staff Discussion Notes 18/07, International Monetary Fund.
    19. Mariya Brussevich & Ms. Era Dabla-Norris & Christine Kamunge & Pooja Karnane & Salma Khalid & Ms. Kalpana Kochhar, 2018. "Gender, Technology, and the Future of Work," IMF Staff Discussion Notes 2018/007, International Monetary Fund.
    20. Michael T. Owyang & Valerie A. Ramey & Sarah Zubairy, 2013. "Are government spending multipliers greater during periods of slack? evidence from 20th century historical data," Working Papers 2013-004, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.
    21. Aksoy, Cevat Giray & Özcan, Berkay & Philipp, Julia, 2021. "Robots and the gender pay gap in Europe," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 134(C).
    22. Ardagna, Silvia, 2009. "Financial Markets’ Behavior Around Episodes of Large Changes in the Fiscal Stance," Scholarly Articles 2579824, Harvard University Department of Economics.
    23. Michael T. Owyang & Valerie A. Ramey & Sarah Zubairy, 2013. "Are Government Spending Multipliers Greater during Periods of Slack? Evidence from Twentieth-Century Historical Data," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 103(3), pages 129-134, May.
    24. Daron Acemoglu & Pascual Restrepo, 2022. "Demographics and Automation [Automation and Demographic Change]," The Review of Economic Studies, Review of Economic Studies Ltd, vol. 89(1), pages 1-44.
    25. Christian Bredemeier & Falko Juessen & Roland Winkler, 2020. "Fiscal Policy and Occupational Employment Dynamics," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 52(6), pages 1527-1563, September.
    26. Maarten Goos & Alan Manning, 2007. "Lousy and Lovely Jobs: The Rising Polarization of Work in Britain," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 89(1), pages 118-133, February.
    27. Daron Acemoglu & Pascual Restrepo, 2018. "Demographics and Automation," Boston University - Department of Economics - Working Papers Series dp-299, Boston University - Department of Economics.
    28. Grigoli, Francesco & Koczan, Zsoka & Topalova, Petia, 2020. "Automation and labor force participation in advanced economies: Macro and micro evidence," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 126(C).
    29. Ardagna, Silvia, 2009. "Financial markets' behavior around episodes of large changes in the fiscal stance," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 53(1), pages 37-55, January.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Most related items

    These are the items that most often cite the same works as this one and are cited by the same works as this one.
    1. Ilona Pavlenkova & Luca Alfieri & Jaan Masso, 2021. "Effects Of Automation On The Gender Pay Gap: The Case Of Estonia," University of Tartu - Faculty of Economics and Business Administration Working Paper Series 131, Faculty of Economics and Business Administration, University of Tartu (Estonia).
    2. Jasmine Mondolo, 2022. "The composite link between technological change and employment: A survey of the literature," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 36(4), pages 1027-1068, September.
    3. Fernández-Macías, Enrique & Klenert, David & Antón, José-Ignacio, 2021. "Not so disruptive yet? Characteristics, distribution and determinants of robots in Europe," Structural Change and Economic Dynamics, Elsevier, vol. 58(C), pages 76-89.
    4. Ana L. ABELIANSKY & Eda ALGUR & David E. BLOOM & Klaus PRETTNER, 2020. "The future of work: Meeting the global challenges of demographic change and automation," International Labour Review, International Labour Organization, vol. 159(3), pages 285-306, September.
    5. Fierro, Luca Eduardo & Caiani, Alessandro & Russo, Alberto, 2022. "Automation, Job Polarisation, and Structural Change," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 200(C), pages 499-535.
    6. Du, Longzheng & Lin, Weifen, 2022. "Does the application of industrial robots overcome the Solow paradox? Evidence from China," Technology in Society, Elsevier, vol. 68(C).
    7. Łukasz Arendt & Eugeniusz Kwiatkowski, 2023. "Kontrowersje wokół wpływu nowoczesnych technologii na zatrudnienie i bezrobocie," Ekonomista, Polskie Towarzystwo Ekonomiczne, issue 2, pages 195-216.
    8. Daniele Angelini, 2023. "Aging Population and Technology Adoption," Working Paper Series of the Department of Economics, University of Konstanz 2023-01, Department of Economics, University of Konstanz.
    9. Gries, Thomas & Naudé, Wim, 2020. "Artificial Intelligence, Income Distribution and Economic Growth," GLO Discussion Paper Series 632, Global Labor Organization (GLO).
    10. Krenz, Astrid & Prettner, Klaus & Strulik, Holger, 2021. "Robots, reshoring, and the lot of low-skilled workers," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 136(C).
    11. Clément Bosquet & Paul Maarek & Elliot Moiteaux, 2021. "Routine-biased technological change and wages by education level: Occupational downgrading and displacement effects," Working Papers hal-03270715, HAL.
    12. Azio Barani, 2021. "Innovazione tecnologica e lavoro: automazione, occupazione e impatti socio-economici," QUADERNI DI ECONOMIA DEL LAVORO, FrancoAngeli Editore, vol. 0(114), pages 51-79.
    13. Qiu, Jiaping & Wan, Chi & Wang, Yan, 2024. "Labor-saving innovations and capital structure," Journal of Corporate Finance, Elsevier, vol. 84(C).
    14. Stähler, Nikolai, 2021. "The Impact of Aging and Automation on the Macroeconomy and Inequality," Journal of Macroeconomics, Elsevier, vol. 67(C).
    15. Genz, Sabrina & Schnabel, Claus, 2021. "Digging into the digital divide: Workers' exposure to digitalization and its consequences for individual employment," Discussion Papers 118, Friedrich-Alexander University Erlangen-Nuremberg, Chair of Labour and Regional Economics.
    16. Anderton, Robert & Jarvis, Valerie & Labhard, Vincent & Morgan, Julian & Petroulakis, Filippos & Vivian, Lara, 2020. "Virtually everywhere? Digitalisation and the euro area and EU economies," Occasional Paper Series 244, European Central Bank.
    17. Fabien Petit & Florencia Jaccoud & Tommaso Ciarli, 2023. "Heterogeneous Adjustments of Labor Markets to Automation Technologies," CESifo Working Paper Series 10237, CESifo.
    18. Mr. Kangni R Kpodar & Ms. Stefania Fabrizio & Kodjovi M. Eklou, 2019. "Export Competitiveness - Fuel Price Nexus in Developing Countries: Real or False Concern?," IMF Working Papers 2019/025, International Monetary Fund.
    19. Cardi, Olivier & Restout, Romain & Claeys, Peter, 2020. "Imperfect mobility of labor across sectors and fiscal transmission," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 111(C).
    20. Maximiliano Dvorkin & Alexander Monge-Naranjo, 2019. "Occupation Mobility, Human Capital and the Aggregate Consequences of Task-Biased Innovations," Working Papers 2019-064, Human Capital and Economic Opportunity Working Group.

    More about this item


    Automation; Fiscal policy; Job creation;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • E24 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Employment; Unemployment; Wages; Intergenerational Income Distribution; Aggregate Human Capital; Aggregate Labor Productivity
    • E62 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook - - - Fiscal Policy; Modern Monetary Theory
    • J23 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Labor Demand
    • O33 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Technological Change: Choices and Consequences; Diffusion Processes


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:eee:jmacro:v:75:y:2023:i:c:s0164070423000022. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a bibliographic reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: Catherine Liu (email available below). General contact details of provider: .

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service. RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.