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Computerization, labor productivity and employment: impacts across industries vary with technological level







Technical progress notably through computerization raises concerns about the future of labor. In parallel, productivity became sluggish in many developed countries and computers are everywhere but not in all productivity statistics, especially not among non IT producing manufacturing industries in the United States (Acemoglu, Autor, Dorn, Hanson, and Price, 2014). To observe whether job losses and missing labor productivity gains from computerization are localized in the same part of the manufacturing sector, this paper delves into targeted disaggregated focuses in France between 1994 and 2007. As computers can be used as complements or substitutes for labor depending on the (non-) routine nature of tasks, we concentrate on low-tech vs. mid/high tech industries and on high-skilled vs. low-skilled workers. Our main results are the following. Contrary to the United States, labor productivity is not driven to a large extent by IT-producing industries. Yet, for the whole IT-using manufacturing sector, computerization is associated with positive but fragile effects on labor productivity, and to unambiguous declines in employment. Actually, a labor saving effect of computerization is massively concentrated among industries relying on low production technology. For mid/high-tech IT-using industries, evidence is less straightforward on labor productivity. Among them, computerization is not associated to job cuts whatever the job type, and is related to a rise in the share of high-skilled workers. In the end, computerization could go in hand in hand with economy wide structural changes, with strong productivity improvements in declining sectors and labor deepening in rising ones.

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  • Ch-M. CHEVALIER & A. LUCIANI, 2018. "Computerization, labor productivity and employment: impacts across industries vary with technological level," Documents de Travail de l'Insee - INSEE Working Papers g2018-02, Institut National de la Statistique et des Etudes Economiques.
  • Handle: RePEc:nse:doctra:g2018-02

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Olivier Bargain & Augustin Vicard, 2014. "Le RMI et son successeur le RSA découragent-ils certains jeunes de travailler ? Une analyse sur les jeunes autour de 25 ans," Économie et Statistique, Programme National Persée, vol. 467(1), pages 61-89.
    2. M. Pak & A. Poissonnier, 2016. "Accounting for technology, trade and final consumption in employment: an Input-Output decomposition," Documents de Travail de l'Insee - INSEE Working Papers g2016-11, Institut National de la Statistique et des Etudes Economiques.
    3. 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.
    4. Kevin J. Fox & Gilbert Cette & Jimmy Lopez & Jacques Mairesse, 2017. "Upstream Product Market Regulations, ICT, R&D and Productivity," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 63, pages 68-89, February.
    5. James Harrigan & Ariell Reshef & Farid Toubal, 2016. "The March of the Techies: Technology, Trade, and Job Polarization in France, 1994-2007," Working Papers 2016-15, CEPII research center.
    6. repec:eee:ecmode:v:75:y:2018:i:c:p:397-421 is not listed on IDEAS
    7. Bronwyn H. Hall & Francesca Lotti & Jacques Mairesse, 2013. "Evidence on the impact of R&D and ICT investments on innovation and productivity in Italian firms," Economics of Innovation and New Technology, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 22(3), pages 300-328, April.
    8. David H. Autor & Lawrence F. Katz & Alan B. Krueger, 1998. "Computing Inequality: Have Computers Changed the Labor Market?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 113(4), pages 1169-1213.
    9. Campagne, Benoît & Poissonnier, Aurélien, 2018. "Structural reforms in DSGE models: Output gains but welfare losses," Economic Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 75(C), pages 397-421.
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    More about this item


    labor productivity; computerization; capital-labor substitution and complementarity;

    JEL classification:

    • J2 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor
    • L60 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Manufacturing - - - General
    • O3 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights

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