What Makes the Jobs of Tomorrow? The “What” and “Why” of Labor Outcomes from Technological Change
Sunday, Jan. 9, 2022 3:45 PM - 5:45 PM (EST)
- Chair: David Autor, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Has COVID-19 Accelerated the Digital Transformation of the Labor Market?
AbstractUsing a longitudinal survey of German firms, we study the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on technology adoption. Our survey contains detailed questions about firms’ technology choices, including frontier technologies such as machine learning, cloud computing, and robotics. In the latest wave, conducted in spring 2021, we additionally ask to what extent the COVID-19 pandemic prompted or accelerated technology adoption as well as organizational changes, and whether these shifts are expected to be permanent. A unique feature of our longitudinal data is the elicitation of technology adoption plans during the first wave five years ago. This allows us to assess how actual choices compare with plans, and to see whether deviations from plans are systematically associated with exposure to COVID-19, using sectoral and regional exposure indices. Linking our survey to administrative data, we are further able to explore the impact of the pandemic on firm performance, labor demand, as well as individual workers.
Occupational Change: Automation and Reskilling Risks
AbstractWe study how much occupational skill compositions changed over the last decade and determine the implications for the values of skills. To do so, we create a novel occupation-level panel of detailed skill compositions based on the skill demands of over 200 million US online job postings from the last decade. We derive a theoretical foundation for measuring distances between occupational skill compositions by leveraging the Aitchison geometry. Using compositional data analysis (CoDA) we then show that low- and medium-wage occupations' skill demands changed more than those of high-wage ones. Thus, lower-wage workers face not only higher risks of direct technological displacement but also increased risks of reskilling in order to stay productive. While consistent with RBTC, the vast majority of these changes are only poorly explained by recent measures of direct technological change and are likely due to indirect effects or unintended consequences of technological change. Finally, we identify skills that are likely to be valuable in the future of work and which may serve as important (re)skill opportunities for workers. These include technical skills, such as machine learning, business, software, and data skills as well as social skills and creativity.
Digging into the Digital Divide: Workers’ Exposure to Digitalization and its Consequences for Individual Employment
AbstractWhile numerous studies have analyzed the aggregate employment effects of digital technologies, this paper focuses on the employment development of individual workers exposed to digitalization. We use a unique linked employer-employee data set for Germany and a direct measure of the first-time introduction of cutting-edge digitalization technologies in establishments between 2011 and 2016. Applying a matching approach, we compare workers in establishments investing in digital technologies with similar employees in establishments that do not make such an investment. We find that the employment stability of incumbent workers is lower in investing than non-investing establishments, but most displaced workers easily find jobs in other firms, and differences in days in unemployment are small. We also document substantial heterogeneities in the employment effects across skill groups, occupational tasks performed, and gender. Employment reactions to digitalization are most pronounced for both low- and high-skilled workers, for workers with non-routine tasks, and for female workers. Our results underline the importance of tackling the impending digital divide among different groups of workers.
- D2 - Production and Organizations
- E2 - Consumption, Saving, Production, Investment, Labor Markets, and Informal Economy