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Computerizing Industries and Routinizing Jobs: Explaining Trends in Aggregate Productivity

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  • Aum, Sangmin
  • Lee, Tim
  • Shin, Yongseok

Abstract

Aggregate productivity growth in the U.S. has slowed down since the 2000s. We quantify the importance of differential productivity growth across occupations and across industries, and the rise of computers since the 1980s, for the productivity slowdown. Complementarity across occupations and industries in production shrinks the relative size of those with high productivity growth, reducing their contributions toward aggregate productivity growth, resulting in its slowdown. We find that such a force, especially the shrinkage of occupations with above-average productivity growth through \routinization," was present since the 1980s. Through the end of the 1990s, this force was countervailed by the extraordinarily high productivity growth in the computer industry, of which output became an increasingly more important input in all industries (\computerization"). It was only when the computer industry's productivity growth slowed down in the 2000s that the negative effect of routinization on aggregate productivity became apparent. We also show that the decline in the labor income share can be attributed to computerization, which substitutes labor across all industries.

Suggested Citation

  • Aum, Sangmin & Lee, Tim & Shin, Yongseok, 2018. "Computerizing Industries and Routinizing Jobs: Explaining Trends in Aggregate Productivity," TSE Working Papers 18-893, Toulouse School of Economics (TSE).
  • Handle: RePEc:tse:wpaper:32481
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    Cited by:

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    2. Zsofia Barany & Christian Siegel, 2021. "Engines of sectoral labor productivity growth," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 39, pages 304-343, January.
    3. Pugsley, Benjamin, 2018. "Comment on “Structural transformation and the rise of information technology” by Gallipoli and Makridis," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 97(C), pages 111-116.
    4. José L. Torres & Pablo Casas, 2020. "Automation, Automatic Capital Returns, and the Functional Income Distribution," Working Papers 2020-02, Universidad de Málaga, Department of Economic Theory, Málaga Economic Theory Research Center.
    5. Jakub Growiec, 2019. "The Hardware–Software Model: A New Conceptual Framework of Production, R&D, and Growth with AI," Working Paper series 19-18, Rimini Centre for Economic Analysis.
    6. Bárány, Zsófia L. & Siegel, Christian, 2020. "Biased technological change and employment reallocation," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 67(C).
    7. Alfonso Cebreros & Aldo Heffner-Rodríguez & René Livas & Daniela Puggioni, 2020. "Automation Technologies and Employment at Risk: The Case of Mexico," Working Papers 2020-04, Banco de México.
    8. Lin Shao & Rongsheng Tang, 2021. "Allocative Efficiency and Aggregate Productivity Growth in Canada and the United States," Staff Working Papers 21-1, Bank of Canada.
    9. Bertin Martens & Songul Tolan, 2018. "Will this time be different? A review of the literature on the Impact of Artificial Intelligence on Employment, Incomes and Growth," JRC Working Papers on Digital Economy 2018-08, Joint Research Centre (Seville site).
    10. Chen, Chaoran, 2020. "Capital-skill complementarity, sectoral labor productivity, and structural transformation," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 116(C).
    11. Kehrig, Matthias, 2018. "Comment on “Computerizing industries and routinizing jobs: Explaining trends in aggregate productivity” by Sangmin Aum, Sang Yoon (Tim) Lee and Yongseok Shin," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 97(C), pages 22-28.
    12. Wang, Tianxi & Wright, Greg C., 2020. "Increasing returns to scale within limits: A model of ICT and its effect on the income distribution and occupation choice," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 189(C).
    13. Seunghoon Na & Hyunseung Oh, 2020. "Computerizing Households and the Role of Investment-Specific Productivity in Business Cycles," International Finance Discussion Papers 1292, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).

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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • E22 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Investment; Capital; Intangible Capital; Capacity
    • O40 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Growth and Aggregate Productivity - - - General
    • O47 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Growth and Aggregate Productivity - - - Empirical Studies of Economic Growth; Aggregate Productivity; Cross-Country Output Convergence

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