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Competing with Robots: Firm-Level Evidence from France


  • Lelarge, Claire
  • Acemoglu, Daron
  • Restrepo, Pascual


Using several sources, we construct a data set of robot purchases by French manufacturing firms and study the firm-level implications of robot adoption. Out of 55,390 firms in our sample, 598 have adopted robots between 2010 and 2015, but these firms account for 20% of manufacturing employment and value added. Consistent with theory, robot adopters experience significant declines in labor share and the share of production workers in employment, and increases in value added and productivity. They expand their overall employment as well. However, this expansion comes at the expense of their competitors (as automation reduces their relative costs). We show that the overall impact of robot adoption on industry employment is negative. We further document that the impact of robots on overall labor share is greater than their firm-level effects because robot adopters are larger and grow faster than their competitors.

Suggested Citation

  • Lelarge, Claire & Acemoglu, Daron & Restrepo, Pascual, 2020. "Competing with Robots: Firm-Level Evidence from France," CEPR Discussion Papers 14971, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  • Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:14971

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Georg Graetz & Guy Michaels, 2018. "Robots at Work," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 100(5), pages 753-768, December.
    2. Philippe Aghion & Céline Antonin & Simon Bunel, 2019. "Artificial Intelligence, Growth and Employment: The Role of Policy," Economie et Statistique / Economics and Statistics, Institut National de la Statistique et des Etudes Economiques (INSEE), issue 510-511-5, pages 149-164.
    3. 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.
    4. Wiljan van den Berge, 2019. "Automatic Reaction – What Happens to Workers at Firms that Automate?," CPB Discussion Paper 390.rdf, CPB Netherlands Bureau for Economic Policy Analysis.
    5. Emin Dinlersoz & Zoltan Wolf, 2018. "Automation, Labor Share, and Productivity: Plant-Level Evidence from U.S. Manufacturing," Working Papers 18-39, Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau.
    6. Wiljan van den Berge, 2019. "Automatic Reaction – What Happens to Workers at Firms that Automate?," CPB Discussion Paper 390, CPB Netherlands Bureau for Economic Policy Analysis.
    7. Patrick Kline & Neviana Petkova & Heidi Williams & Owen Zidar, 2019. "Who Profits from Patents? Rent-Sharing at Innovative Firms," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, President and Fellows of Harvard College, vol. 134(3), pages 1343-1404.
    8. repec:hal:spmain:info:hdl:2441/7n49nkmngd8448a5ts5gt5ade0 is not listed on IDEAS
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    More about this item


    Automation; Competition; Labor share; Manufacturing; Productivity; Reallocation; robots; Tasks;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • J23 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Labor Demand
    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity
    • L11 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance - - - Production, Pricing, and Market Structure; Size Distribution of Firms

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