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Perpetual growth, distribution, and robots

Author

Listed:
  • Nomaler, Onder

    () (ECIS, TU Eindhoven)

  • Verspagen, Bart

    () (UNU-MERIT, Maastricht University)

Abstract

The current literature on the economic effects of machine learning, robotisation and artificial intelligence suggests that there may be an upcoming wave of substitution of human labour by machines (including software). We take this as a reason to rethink the traditional ways in which technological change has been represented in economic models. In doing so, we contribute to the recent literature on so-called perpetual growth, i.e., growth of per capita income without technological progress. When technology embodied in capital goods are sufficiently advanced, per capita growth becomes possible with a non-progressing state of technology. We present a simple Solow-like growth model that incorporates these ideas. The model predicts a rising wage rate but declining share of wage income in the steady state growth path. We present simulation experiments on several policy options to combat the inequality that results from this, including a universal basic income as well as an option in which workers become owners of "robots".

Suggested Citation

  • Nomaler, Onder & Verspagen, Bart, 2018. "Perpetual growth, distribution, and robots," MERIT Working Papers 023, United Nations University - Maastricht Economic and Social Research Institute on Innovation and Technology (MERIT).
  • Handle: RePEc:unm:unumer:2018023
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    File URL: https://www.merit.unu.edu/publications/wppdf/2018/wp2018-023.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Peretto, Pietro F. & Seater, John J., 2013. "Factor-eliminating technical change," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 60(4), pages 459-473.
    2. Robert M. Solow, 1956. "A Contribution to the Theory of Economic Growth," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 70(1), pages 65-94.
    3. DeCanio, Stephen J., 2016. "Robots and humans – complements or substitutes?," Journal of Macroeconomics, Elsevier, vol. 49(C), pages 280-291.
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    Cited by:

    1. Gassmann, Franziska & Martorano, Bruno, 2019. "The future of work and its implications for social protection and the welfare state," MERIT Working Papers 039, United Nations University - Maastricht Economic and Social Research Institute on Innovation and Technology (MERIT).

    More about this item

    Keywords

    perpetual economic growth; economic effects of robots; income distribution;

    JEL classification:

    • O15 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Economic Development: Human Resources; Human Development; Income Distribution; Migration
    • O41 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Growth and Aggregate Productivity - - - One, Two, and Multisector Growth Models
    • O33 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Technological Change: Choices and Consequences; Diffusion Processes
    • E25 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Aggregate Factor Income Distribution
    • P17 - Economic Systems - - Capitalist Systems - - - Performance and Prospects

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