IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/p/zbw/glodps/721.html
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Back to the past: the historical roots of labour-saving automation

Author

Listed:
  • Staccioli, Jacopo
  • Virgillito, Maria Enrica

Abstract

This paper, relying on a still relatively unexplored long-term dataset on U.S. patenting activity, provides empirical evidence on the history of labour-saving innovations back to early 19th century. The identification of mechanisation/automation heuristics, retrieved via textual content analysis on current robotic technologies by Montobbio et al. (2020), allows to focus on a limited set of CPC codes where mechanisation and automation technologies are more prevalent. We track their time evolution, clustering, eventual emergence of wavy behaviour, and their comovements with long-term GDP growth. Our results challenge both the general-purpose technology approach and the strict 50-year Kondratiev cycle, while provide evidence of the emergence of erratic constellations of heterogeneous technological artefacts, in line with the developmentblock approach enabled by autocatalytic systems.

Suggested Citation

  • Staccioli, Jacopo & Virgillito, Maria Enrica, 2020. "Back to the past: the historical roots of labour-saving automation," GLO Discussion Paper Series 721, Global Labor Organization (GLO).
  • Handle: RePEc:zbw:glodps:721
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: https://www.econstor.eu/bitstream/10419/226370/1/GLO-DP-0721.pdf
    Download Restriction: no
    ---><---

    Other versions of this item:

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Chris Freeman, 2019. "History, Co-Evolution and Economic Growth," Industrial and Corporate Change, Oxford University Press, vol. 28(1), pages 1-44.
    2. Lachenmaier, Stefan & Rottmann, Horst, 2011. "Effects of innovation on employment: A dynamic panel analysis," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 29(2), pages 210-220, March.
    3. Georg Graetz & Guy Michaels, 2018. "Robots at Work," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 100(5), pages 753-768, December.
    4. 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.
    5. Gabriele Pellegrino & Mariacristina Piva & Marco Vivarelli, 2019. "Beyond R&D: the role of embodied technological change in affecting employment," Journal of Evolutionary Economics, Springer, vol. 29(4), pages 1151-1171, September.
    6. Charpe, Matthieu & Bridji, Slim & Mcadam, Peter, 2020. "Labor Share And Growth In The Long Run," Macroeconomic Dynamics, Cambridge University Press, vol. 24(7), pages 1720-1757, October.
    7. Mariacristina Piva & Marco Vivarelli, 2018. "Technological change and employment: is Europe ready for the challenge?," Eurasian Business Review, Springer;Eurasia Business and Economics Society, vol. 8(1), pages 13-32, March.
    8. Gerald Silverberg & Bart Verspagen, 2003. "Breaking the waves: a Poisson regression approach to Schumpeterian clustering of basic innovations," Cambridge Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 27(5), pages 671-693, September.
    9. Laura Barbieri & Mariacristina Piva & Marco Vivarelli, 2019. "R&D, embodied technological change, and employment: evidence from Italian microdata," Industrial and Corporate Change, Oxford University Press, vol. 28(1), pages 203-218.
    10. Inklaar, Robert & de Jong, Harmen & Bolt, Jutta & van Zanden, Jan, 2018. "Rebasing 'Maddison': new income comparisons and the shape of long-run economic development," GGDC Research Memorandum GD-174, Groningen Growth and Development Centre, University of Groningen.
    11. Montobbio, Fabio & Staccioli, Jacopo & Virgillito, Maria Enrica & Vivarelli, Marco, 2022. "Robots and the origin of their labour-saving impact," Technological Forecasting and Social Change, Elsevier, vol. 174(C).
    12. Lawrence J. Christiano & Terry J. Fitzgerald, 2003. "The Band Pass Filter," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 44(2), pages 435-465, May.
    13. Marco Gallegati, 2019. "A system for dating long wave phases in economic development," Journal of Evolutionary Economics, Springer, vol. 29(3), pages 803-822, July.
    14. Dosi, G. & Piva, M. & Virgillito, M.E. & Vivarelli, M., 2021. "Embodied and disembodied technological change: The sectoral patterns of job-creation and job-destruction," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 50(4).
    15. Daron Acemoglu & Pascual Restrepo, 2020. "Robots and Jobs: Evidence from US Labor Markets," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 128(6), pages 2188-2244.
    16. Harrison, Rupert & Jaumandreu, Jordi & Mairesse, Jacques & Peters, Bettina, 2014. "Does innovation stimulate employment? A firm-level analysis using comparable micro-data from four European countries," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 35(C), pages 29-43.
    17. Solomou, Solomos, 1986. "Innovation Clusters and Kondratieff Long Waves in Economic Growth," Cambridge Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 10(2), pages 101-112, June.
    18. Angelo Moro & Matteo Rinaldini & Jacopo Staccioli & Maria Enrica Virgillito, 2019. "Control in the era of surveillance capitalism: an empirical investigation of Italian Industry 4.0 factories," Economia e Politica Industriale: Journal of Industrial and Business Economics, Springer;Associazione Amici di Economia e Politica Industriale, vol. 46(3), pages 347-360, September.
    19. Daron Acemoglu & Pascual Restrepo, 2018. "The Race between Man and Machine: Implications of Technology for Growth, Factor Shares, and Employment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 108(6), pages 1488-1542, June.
    20. Dosi, Giovanni, 1993. "Technological paradigms and technological trajectories : A suggested interpretation of the determinants and directions of technical change," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 22(2), pages 102-103, April.
    21. Carolina Castaldi & Roberto Fontana & Alessandro Nuvolari, 2009. "‘Chariots of fire’: the evolution of tank technology, 1915–1945," Journal of Evolutionary Economics, Springer, vol. 19(4), pages 545-566, August.
    22. Tunzelmann G. N. von, 1995. "Time-Saving Technical Change: The Cotton Industry in the English Industrial Revolution," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 32(1), pages 1-27, January.
    23. Martinelli, Arianna, 2012. "An emerging paradigm or just another trajectory? Understanding the nature of technological changes using engineering heuristics in the telecommunications switching industry," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 41(2), pages 414-429.
    24. Jeremy Atack & Robert A. Margo & Paul Rhode, 2020. "‘Mechanization Takes Command’: Inanimate Power and Labor Productivity in Late Nineteenth Century American Manufacturing," NBER Working Papers 27436, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    25. Kleinknecht, Alfred, 1990. "Are There Schumpeterian Waves of Innovations?," Cambridge Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 14(1), pages 81-92, March.
    26. Giovanni Dosi & Luigi Marengo & Alessandro Nuvolari, 2020. "Institutions and economic change: some notes on self-organization, power and learning in human organizations," Eurasian Business Review, Springer;Eurasia Business and Economics Society, vol. 10(1), pages 1-22, March.
    27. Gianluca Capone & Franco Malerba & Richard R. Nelson & Luigi Orsenigo & Sidney G. Winter, 2019. "History friendly models: retrospective and future perspectives," Eurasian Business Review, Springer;Eurasia Business and Economics Society, vol. 9(1), pages 1-23, March.
    28. Van Reenen, John, 1997. "Employment and Technological Innovation: Evidence from U.K. Manufacturing Firms," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 15(2), pages 255-284, April.
    29. Taalbi, Josef, 2017. "What drives innovation? Evidence from economic history," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 46(8), pages 1437-1453.
    30. Horst Hanusch & Andreas Pyka (ed.), 2007. "Elgar Companion to Neo-Schumpeterian Economics," Books, Edward Elgar Publishing, number 2973.
    31. Freeman, Chris & Louca, Francisco, 2002. "As Time Goes By: From the Industrial Revolutions to the Information Revolution," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780199251056.
    32. Luís Aguiar-Conraria & Maria Joana Soares, 2014. "The Continuous Wavelet Transform: Moving Beyond Uni- And Bivariate Analysis," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 28(2), pages 344-375, April.
    33. Van Roy, Vincent & Vértesy, Dániel & Vivarelli, Marco, 2018. "Technology and employment: Mass unemployment or job creation? Empirical evidence from European patenting firms," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 47(9), pages 1762-1776.
    34. Flavio Calvino & Maria Enrica Virgillito, 2018. "The Innovation†Employment Nexus: A Critical Survey Of Theory And Empirics," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 32(1), pages 83-117, February.
    35. Cohen, Michael D, et al, 1996. "Routines and Other Recurring Action Patterns of Organizations: Contemporary Research Issues," Industrial and Corporate Change, Oxford University Press, vol. 5(3), pages 653-698.
    36. Dosi, Giovanni, 1988. "Sources, Procedures, and Microeconomic Effects of Innovation," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 26(3), pages 1120-1171, September.
    37. Cirillo, Valeria & Rinaldini, Matteo & Staccioli, Jacopo & Virgillito, Maria Enrica, 2021. "Technology vs. workers: the case of Italy’s Industry 4.0 factories," Structural Change and Economic Dynamics, Elsevier, vol. 56(C), pages 166-183.
    38. Schmookler, Jacob, 1962. "Economic Sources of Inventive Activity," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 22(1), pages 1-20, March.
    39. Marco Vivarelli, 1995. "The Economics of Technology and Employment," Books, Edward Elgar Publishing, number 458.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Citations

    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.
    as


    Cited by:

    1. Montobbio, Fabio & Staccioli, Jacopo & Virgillito, Maria Enrica & Vivarelli, Marco, 2022. "Robots and the origin of their labour-saving impact," Technological Forecasting and Social Change, Elsevier, vol. 174(C).
    2. Guendalina Anzolin, 2021. "Automation and its Employment Effects: A Literature Review of Automotive and Garment Sectors," JRC Working Papers on Labour, Education and Technology 2021-16, Joint Research Centre (Seville site).
    3. Damioli, Giacomo & Van Roy, Vincent & Vertesy, Daniel & Vivarelli, Marco, 2021. "Will the AI revolution be labour-friendly? Some micro evidence from the supply side," MERIT Working Papers 2021-016, United Nations University - Maastricht Economic and Social Research Institute on Innovation and Technology (MERIT).
    4. Damioli, Giacomo & Van Roy, Vincent & Vertesy, Daniel & Vivarelli, Marco, 2021. "May AI Revolution Be Labour-Friendly? Some Micro Evidence from the Supply Side," IZA Discussion Papers 14309, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    5. Rajeev K. Goel & Michael A. Nelson, 2022. "Employment effects of R&D and process innovation: evidence from small and medium-sized firms in emerging markets," Eurasian Business Review, Springer;Eurasia Business and Economics Society, vol. 12(1), pages 97-123, March.
    6. Mark Knell & Simone Vannuccini, 2022. "Tools and concepts for understanding disruptive technological change after Schumpeter," Jena Economic Research Papers 2022-005, Friedrich-Schiller-University Jena.
    7. Enrico Santarelli & Jacopo Staccioli & Marco Vivarelli, 2021. "Robots, AI, and Related Technologies: A Mapping of the New Knowledge Base," LEM Papers Series 2021/01, Laboratory of Economics and Management (LEM), Sant'Anna School of Advanced Studies, Pisa, Italy.
    8. Fabio Montobbio & Jacopo Staccioli & Maria Enrica Virgillito & Marco Vivarelli, 2021. "Labour-saving automation and occupational exposure: a text-similarity measure," DISCE - Quaderni del Dipartimento di Politica Economica dipe0021, Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, Dipartimenti e Istituti di Scienze Economiche (DISCE).
    9. Dosi, G. & Pereira, M.C. & Roventini, A. & Virgillito, M.E., 2022. "Technological paradigms, labour creation and destruction in a multi-sector agent-based model," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 51(10).
    10. Yang, Chih-Hai, 2022. "How Artificial Intelligence Technology Affects Productivity and Employment: Firm-level Evidence from Taiwan," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 51(6).
    11. Jacopo Staccioli & Maria Enrica Virgillito, 2020. "The present, past, and future of labor-saving technologies," LEM Papers Series 2020/37, Laboratory of Economics and Management (LEM), Sant'Anna School of Advanced Studies, Pisa, Italy.
    12. Giovanni Dosi & Marcelo C. Pereira & Andrea Roventini & Maria Enrica Virgillito, 2021. "Technological paradigms, labour creation and destruction in a multi-sector agent-based model," LEM Papers Series 2021/17, Laboratory of Economics and Management (LEM), Sant'Anna School of Advanced Studies, Pisa, Italy.
    13. Giacomo Damioli & Vincent Van Roy & Daniel Vertesy & Marco Vivarelli, 2021. "Detecting the labour-friendly nature of AI product innovation," DISCE - Quaderni del Dipartimento di Politica Economica dipe0017, Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, Dipartimenti e Istituti di Scienze Economiche (DISCE).
    14. Jasmine Mondolo, 2022. "The composite link between technological change and employment: A survey of the literature," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 36(4), pages 1027-1068, September.

    Most related items

    These are the items that most often cite the same works as this one and are cited by the same works as this one.
    1. Montobbio, Fabio & Staccioli, Jacopo & Virgillito, Maria Enrica & Vivarelli, Marco, 2022. "Robots and the origin of their labour-saving impact," Technological Forecasting and Social Change, Elsevier, vol. 174(C).
    2. Jacopo Staccioli & Maria Enrica Virgillito, 2020. "The present, past, and future of labor-saving technologies," DISCE - Quaderni del Dipartimento di Politica Economica dipe0013, Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, Dipartimenti e Istituti di Scienze Economiche (DISCE).
    3. Dosi, G. & Piva, M. & Virgillito, M.E. & Vivarelli, M., 2021. "Embodied and disembodied technological change: The sectoral patterns of job-creation and job-destruction," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 50(4).
    4. Rajeev K. Goel & Michael A. Nelson, 2022. "Employment effects of R&D and process innovation: evidence from small and medium-sized firms in emerging markets," Eurasian Business Review, Springer;Eurasia Business and Economics Society, vol. 12(1), pages 97-123, March.
    5. Damioli, G. & Van Roy, V. & Vertesy, D. & Vivarelli, M., 2021. "May AI revolution be labour-friendly? Some micro evidence from the supply side," GLO Discussion Paper Series 823, Global Labor Organization (GLO).
    6. Giacomo Damioli & Vincent Van Roy & Daniel Vertesy & Marco Vivarelli, 2021. "Detecting the labour-friendly nature of AI product innovation," DISCE - Quaderni del Dipartimento di Politica Economica dipe0017, Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, Dipartimenti e Istituti di Scienze Economiche (DISCE).
    7. Jasmine Mondolo, 2022. "The composite link between technological change and employment: A survey of the literature," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 36(4), pages 1027-1068, September.
    8. Damioli, Giacomo & Van Roy, Vincent & Vertesy, Daniel & Vivarelli, Marco, 2021. "Will the AI revolution be labour-friendly? Some micro evidence from the supply side," MERIT Working Papers 2021-016, United Nations University - Maastricht Economic and Social Research Institute on Innovation and Technology (MERIT).
    9. Giovanni Dosi & Marcelo C. Pereira & Andrea Roventini & Maria Enrica Virgillito, 2021. "Technological paradigms, labour creation and destruction in a multi-sector agent-based model," LEM Papers Series 2021/17, Laboratory of Economics and Management (LEM), Sant'Anna School of Advanced Studies, Pisa, Italy.
    10. Dosi, G. & Pereira, M.C. & Roventini, A. & Virgillito, M.E., 2022. "Technological paradigms, labour creation and destruction in a multi-sector agent-based model," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 51(10).
    11. Giovanni Dosi & Mariacristina Piva & Maria Enrica Virgillito & Marco Vivarelli, 2019. "Technology and employment in a vertically connected economy: a model and an empirical test," DISCE - Quaderni del Dipartimento di Politica Economica dipe0005, Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, Dipartimenti e Istituti di Scienze Economiche (DISCE).
    12. Fabio Montobbio & Jacopo Staccioli & Maria Enrica Virgillito & Marco Vivarelli, 2021. "Labour-saving automation and occupational exposure: a text-similarity measure," DISCE - Quaderni del Dipartimento di Politica Economica dipe0021, Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, Dipartimenti e Istituti di Scienze Economiche (DISCE).
    13. Luigi Aldieri & Concetto Paolo Vinci, 2018. "Green Economy and Sustainable Development: The Economic Impact of Innovation on Employment," Sustainability, MDPI, vol. 10(10), pages 1-11, October.
    14. Gabriele Pellegrino & Mariacristina Piva & Marco Vivarelli, 2019. "Beyond R&D: the role of embodied technological change in affecting employment," Journal of Evolutionary Economics, Springer, vol. 29(4), pages 1151-1171, September.
    15. Barbieri, Laura & Mussida, Chiara & Piva, Mariacristina & Vivarelli, Marco, 2019. "Testing the employment and skill impact of new technologies: A survey and some methodological issues," MERIT Working Papers 2019-032, United Nations University - Maastricht Economic and Social Research Institute on Innovation and Technology (MERIT).
    16. Van Roy, Vincent & Vértesy, Dániel & Vivarelli, Marco, 2018. "Technology and employment: Mass unemployment or job creation? Empirical evidence from European patenting firms," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 47(9), pages 1762-1776.
    17. Porath, Daniel & Nabachwa, Sarah & Agasha, Ester & Kijjambu, Nsambu Frederick, 2021. "Innovation and employment in Sub-Saharan Africa," UASM Discussion Paper Series 10/2021, University of Applied Sciences Mainz.
    18. Lorenzo Cresti & Giovanni Dosi & Giorgio Fagiolo, 2022. "Technological interdependencies and employment changes in European industries," LEM Papers Series 2022/05, Laboratory of Economics and Management (LEM), Sant'Anna School of Advanced Studies, Pisa, Italy.
    19. Vivarelli, Marco, 2018. "Globalization, Structural Change and Innovation in Emerging Economies: The Impact on Employment and Skills," IZA Discussion Papers 11849, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    20. Fierro, Luca Eduardo & Caiani, Alessandro & Russo, Alberto, 2022. "Automation, Job Polarisation, and Structural Change," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 200(C), pages 499-535.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Labour-Saving Technologies; Search Heuristics; Industrial Revolutions; Wavelet analysis;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • O3 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights
    • C38 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Multiple or Simultaneous Equation Models; Multiple Variables - - - Classification Methdos; Cluster Analysis; Principal Components; Factor Analysis
    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:zbw:glodps:721. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: . General contact details of provider: https://edirc.repec.org/data/glabode.html .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a bibliographic reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: ZBW - Leibniz Information Centre for Economics (email available below). General contact details of provider: https://edirc.repec.org/data/glabode.html .

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.