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How Technological Change Affects Regional Electorates

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  • Nikolas Schöll
  • Thomas Kurer

Abstract

This paper challenges the common perception that automation and digitalization generally reduce employment and primarily result in political discontent. Drawing on fine-grained labor market data from West Germany and shift-share instruments combined with two-way fixed-effect panel models, we study how technological change affects regional electorates. We show that the expected decline in manufacturing and routine jobs in regions with higher robot adoption or higher investment in information and communication technology (ICT) was in fact more than compensated by parallel employment growth in the service sector and cognitive non-routine occupations. This change in the regional composition of the electorate has important political implications as workers trained for these new sectors typically hold progressive political values. Consequentially, local advances in technology are associated with higher vote shares for progressive parties. This finding adds important nuance to the popular narrative that technological change fuels radical right voting.

Suggested Citation

  • Nikolas Schöll & Thomas Kurer, 2021. "How Technological Change Affects Regional Electorates," Working Papers 1269, Barcelona Graduate School of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:bge:wpaper:1269
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    4. 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.
    5. Wolfgang Dauth & Sebastian Findeisen & Jens Suedekum, 2021. "Adjusting to Globalization in Germany," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 39(1), pages 263-302.
    6. de Vries, Gaaitzen J. & Gentile, Elisabetta & Miroudot, Sébastien & Wacker, Konstantin M., 2020. "The rise of robots and the fall of routine jobs," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 66(C).
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    technological change; automation; robots; political preferences; Voters; occupational determinants of plitical preferences;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • P16 - Economic Systems - - Capitalist Systems - - - Political Economy of Capitalism
    • D72 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Political Processes: Rent-seeking, Lobbying, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior
    • O33 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Technological Change: Choices and Consequences; Diffusion Processes
    • J31 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Wage Level and Structure; Wage Differentials

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