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Artificial intelligence, jobs, inequality and productivity: Does aggregate demand matter?

Author

Listed:
  • Gries, Thomas

    () (Universitat Paderborn)

  • Naude, Wim

    () (UNU-MERIT, and Maastricht University, RWTH Aachen University, IZA Institute of Labor Economics, Bonn.)

Abstract

Rapid technological progress in artificial intelligence (AI) has been predicted to lead to mass unemployment, rising inequality, and higher productivity growth through automation. In this paper we critically re-assess these predictions by (i) surveying the recent literature and (ii) incorporating AI-facilitated automation into a product variety-model, frequently used in endogenous growth theory, but modified to allow for demand-side constraints. This is a novel approach, given that endogenous growth models, and including most recent work on AI in economic growth, are largely supply-driven. Our contribution is motivated by two reasons. One is that there are still only very few theoretical models of economic growth that incorporate AI, and moreover an absence of growth models with AI that takes into consideration growth constraints due to insuficient aggregate demand. A second is that the predictions of AI causing massive job losses and faster growth in productivity and GDP are at odds with reality so far: if anything, unemployment in many advanced economies is historically low. However, wage growth and productivity is stagnating and inequality is rising. Our paper provides a theoretical explanation of this in the context of rapid progress in AI.

Suggested Citation

  • Gries, Thomas & Naude, Wim, 2018. "Artificial intelligence, jobs, inequality and productivity: Does aggregate demand matter?," MERIT Working Papers 047, United Nations University - Maastricht Economic and Social Research Institute on Innovation and Technology (MERIT).
  • Handle: RePEc:unm:unumer:2018047
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Benjamin F. Jones, 2009. "The Burden of Knowledge and the "Death of the Renaissance Man": Is Innovation Getting Harder?," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 76(1), pages 283-317.
    2. Ad. J. W. van de Gevel & Charles N. Noussair, 2013. "The Nexus between Artificial Intelligence and Economics," SpringerBriefs in Economics, Springer, edition 127, number 978-3-642-33648-5, December.
    3. David H. Autor & David Dorn, 2013. "The Growth of Low-Skill Service Jobs and the Polarization of the US Labor Market," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 103(5), pages 1553-1597, August.
    4. Dauth, Wolfgang & Findeisen, Sebastian & Südekum, Jens & Wößner, Nicole, 2017. "German robots - the impact of industrial robots on workers," IAB Discussion Paper 201730, Institut für Arbeitsmarkt- und Berufsforschung (IAB), Nürnberg [Institute for Employment Research, Nuremberg, Germany].
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    7. David M. Byrne & Stephen D. Oliner & Daniel E. Sichel, 2013. "Is the Information Technology Revolution Over?," International Productivity Monitor, Centre for the Study of Living Standards, vol. 25, pages 20-36, Spring.
    8. David H. Autor, 2015. "Why Are There Still So Many Jobs? The History and Future of Workplace Automation," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 29(3), pages 3-30, Summer.
    9. Gries, Thomas & Naudé, Wim, 2011. "Entrepreneurship and human development: A capability approach," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 95(3), pages 216-224.
    10. Barry Eichengreen, 2015. "Secular Stagnation: The Long View," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 105(5), pages 66-70, May.
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Technology; artificial intelligence; productivity; labour demand; innovation; growth theory;

    JEL classification:

    • O47 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Growth and Aggregate Productivity - - - Empirical Studies of Economic Growth; Aggregate Productivity; Cross-Country Output Convergence
    • O33 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Technological Change: Choices and Consequences; Diffusion Processes
    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity
    • E21 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Consumption; Saving; Wealth
    • E25 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Aggregate Factor Income Distribution

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