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

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  • Hecht, Jason

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.

Suggested Citation

  • Hecht, Jason, 2001. "Classical Labour-Displacing Technological Change: The Case of the US Insurance Industry," Cambridge Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 25(4), pages 517-537, July.
  • 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 and Business 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).
    3. Jessica G. Lambert & Gail P. Lambert, 2011. "Predicting the Psychological Response of the American People to Oil Depletion and Declining Energy Return on Investment (EROI)," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 3(11), pages 1-28, November.

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