IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/p/zbw/vfsc14/100401.html
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Rise of the Machines: The Effects of Labor-Saving Innovations on Jobs and Wages

Author

Listed:
  • Graetz, Georg
  • Feng, Andy

Abstract

Job polarization the rise in employment shares of high and low skill jobs at the expense of middle skill jobs occurred in the US not just recently, but also in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. We argue that in each case polarization resulted from increased automation, and provide a theoretical explanation. In our model, firms deciding whether to employ machines or workers in a given task weigh the cost of using machines, which is increasing in the complexity (in an engineering sense) of the task, against the cost of employing workers, which is increasing in training time required by the task. Insights from artificial intelligence and robotics suggest that some tasks do not require training regardless of complexity, while in other tasks training is required and increases in complexity. In equilibrium, firms are more likely to automate a task that requires training, holding complexity constant. We assume that more-skilled workers learn faster, and thus it is middle skill workers who have a comparative advantage in tasks that are most likely to be automated when machine design costs fall. In addition to explaining job polarization, our model makes sense of observed patterns of automation and accounts for a set of novel stylized facts about occupational training requirements.

Suggested Citation

  • Graetz, Georg & Feng, Andy, 2014. "Rise of the Machines: The Effects of Labor-Saving Innovations on Jobs and Wages," Annual Conference 2014 (Hamburg): Evidence-based Economic Policy 100401, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.
  • Handle: RePEc:zbw:vfsc14:100401
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: https://www.econstor.eu/bitstream/10419/100401/1/VfS_2014_pid_673.pdf
    Download Restriction: no

    Other versions of this item:

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Guy Michaels & Ashwini Natraj & John Van Reenen, 2010. "Has ICT Polarized Skill Demand? Evidence from Eleven Countries over 25 years," NBER Working Papers 16138, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Brent Neiman, 2014. "The Global Decline of the Labor Share," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 129(1), pages 61-103.
    3. Frank Levy & David H. Autor & Richard J. Murnane, 2003. "The skill content of recent technological change: an empirical exploration," Proceedings, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, issue Nov.
    4. Thomas J. Holmes & Matthew F. Mitchell, 2008. "A theory of factor allocation and plant size," RAND Journal of Economics, RAND Corporation, vol. 39(2), pages 329-351, June.
    5. Frey, Carl Benedikt & Osborne, Michael A., 2017. "The future of employment: How susceptible are jobs to computerisation?," Technological Forecasting and Social Change, Elsevier, vol. 114(C), pages 254-280.
    6. Guido Matias Cortes, 2016. "Where Have the Middle-Wage Workers Gone? A Study of Polarization Using Panel Data," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 34(1), pages 63-105.
    7. Arnaud Costinot & Jonathan Vogel, 2010. "Matching and Inequality in the World Economy," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 118(4), pages 747-786, August.
    8. Michael Elsby & Bart Hobijn & Ayseful Sahin, 2013. "The Decline of the U.S. Labor Share," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 44(2 (Fall)), pages 1-63.
    9. Gray, Rowena, 2013. "Taking technology to task: The skill content of technological change in early twentieth century United States," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 50(3), pages 351-367.
    10. Atack, Jeremy & Bateman, Fred & Weiss, Thomas, 1980. "The Regional Diffusion and Adoption of the Steam Engine in American Manufacturing," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 40(2), pages 281-308, June.
    11. Guy Michaels & Ashwini Natraj & John Van Reenen, 2014. "Has ICT Polarized Skill Demand? Evidence from Eleven Countries over Twenty-Five Years," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 96(1), pages 60-77, March.
    12. Chari, V V & Hopenhayn, Hugo, 1991. "Vintage Human Capital, Growth, and the Diffusion of New Technology," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 99(6), pages 1142-1165, December.
    13. Francisco Rodriguez & Arjun Jayadev, 2010. "The Declining Labor Share of Income," Human Development Research Papers (2009 to present) HDRP-2010-36, Human Development Report Office (HDRO), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
    14. Luis Garicano, 2000. "Hierarchies and the Organization of Knowledge in Production," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 108(5), pages 874-904, October.
    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. Edwards, T. Huw & Perroni, Carlo, 2014. "Market Integration, Wage Concentration, and the Cost and Volume of Traded Machines," CAGE Online Working Paper Series 203, Competitive Advantage in the Global Economy (CAGE).
    2. Daron Acemoglu & Pascual Restrepo, 2018. "Low-Skill and High-Skill Automation," Journal of Human Capital, University of Chicago Press, vol. 12(2), pages 204-232.
    3. Tschirley, David & Reardon, Thomas, 2016. "Impact on Employment and Migration of Structural and Rural Transformation," Food Security International Development Working Papers 245895, Michigan State University, Department of Agricultural, Food, and Resource Economics.
    4. Gersbach, Hans & Schmassmann, Samuel, 2019. "Skills, Tasks, and Complexity," IZA Discussion Papers 12770, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    5. Zsófia L. Bárány & Christian Siegel, 2018. "Job Polarization and Structural Change," American Economic Journal: Macroeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 10(1), pages 57-89, January.
    6. Georg Graetz & Guy Michaels, 2018. "Robots at Work," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 100(5), pages 753-768, December.
    7. Böhm, Michael, 2014. "The Wage Effects of Job Polarization: Evidence from the Allocation of Talents," Annual Conference 2014 (Hamburg): Evidence-based Economic Policy 100547, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.
    8. Olexandr Yemelyanov & Anastasiya Symak & Tetyana Petrushka & Roman Lesyk & Lilia Lesyk, 2018. "Assessment of the Technological Changes Impact on the Sustainability of State Security System of Ukraine," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 10(4), pages 1-24, April.
    9. T. Huw Edwards & Carlo Perroni, 2014. "Market Integration, Wage Concentration, and the Cost and Volume of Traded Machines," CESifo Working Paper Series 4997, CESifo Group Munich.
    10. Zsófia L. Bárány & Christian Siegel, 2018. "Job Polarization and Structural Change," American Economic Journal: Macroeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 10(1), pages 57-89, January.
    11. Wan-Jung Cheng, 2017. "Explaining Job Polarization: The Role of Heterogeneity in Capital Intensity," IEAS Working Paper : academic research 17-A015, Institute of Economics, Academia Sinica, Taipei, Taiwan, revised Feb 2018.
    12. Gustavsson, Magnus, 2017. "Is Job Polarization a Recent Phenomenon? Evidence from Sweden, 1950–2013, and a Comparison to the United States," Working Paper Series 2017:14, Uppsala University, Department of Economics.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • J23 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Labor Demand
    • J31 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Wage Level and Structure; Wage Differentials
    • O33 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Technological Change: Choices and Consequences; Diffusion Processes

    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:vfsc14:100401. 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: (ZBW - Leibniz Information Centre for Economics). General contact details of provider: http://edirc.repec.org/data/vfsocea.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 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.

    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.