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Robots at Work? Pitfalls of Industry Level Data


  • Karim Bekhtiar
  • Benjamin Bittschi
  • Richard Sellner


In a seminal paper Graetz and Michaels (2018) find that robots increase labor productivity and TFP, lower output prices and adversely aect the employment share of low-skilled labor. We show that these effects hold only, when comparing hardly-robotizing with highly-robotizing sectors and collapse, when only the latter are analyzed. Controlling for demographic workforce variables reestablishes the productivity effects, but still rejects positive wage effects and skill-biased technological change. Additionally, we find no effects, when the investigation period is extended to the most recent data (2008-2015) and document non-monotonicity in one of the instruments, which calls the respective results into question.

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  • Karim Bekhtiar & Benjamin Bittschi & Richard Sellner, 2021. "Robots at Work? Pitfalls of Industry Level Data," EconPol Working Paper 58, ifo Institute - Leibniz Institute for Economic Research at the University of Munich.
  • Handle: RePEc:ces:econwp:_58

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Alexandra Spitz-Oener, 2006. "Technical Change, Job Tasks, and Rising Educational Demands: Looking outside the Wage Structure," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 24(2), pages 235-270, April.
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    3. 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).
    4. Enrique Fernandez-Macias & David Klenert & Jose-Ignacio Anton, 2020. "Not so disruptive yet? Characteristics, distribution and determinants of robots in Europe," JRC Working Papers on Labour, Education and Technology 2020-03, Joint Research Centre (Seville site).
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    Cited by:

    1. Antón, José-Ignacio & Fernández-Macías, Enrique & Winter-Ebmer, Rudolf, 2020. "Does Robotization Affect Job Quality? Evidence from European Regional Labour Markets," IZA Discussion Papers 13975, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).

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    More about this item

    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
    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity
    • J31 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Wage Level and Structure; Wage Differentials
    • L60 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Manufacturing - - - General
    • O30 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - General


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