EconPapers    
Economics at your fingertips  
 

Automation and New Tasks: How Technology Displaces and Reinstates Labor

Daron Acemoglu and Pascual Restrepo ()

Journal of Economic Perspectives, 2019, vol. 33, issue 2, 3-30

Abstract: We present a framework for understanding the effects of automation and other types of technological changes on labor demand, and use it to interpret changes in US employment over the recent past. At the center of our framework is the allocation of tasks to capital and labor—the task content of production. Automation, which enables capital to replace labor in tasks it was previously engaged in, shifts the task content of production against labor because of a displacement effect. As a result, automation always reduces the labor share in value added and may reduce labor demand even as it raises productivity. The effects of automation are counterbalanced by the creation of new tasks in which labor has a comparative advantage. The introduction of new tasks changes the task content of production in favor of labor because of a reinstatement effect, and always raises the labor share and labor demand. We show how the role of changes in the task content of production—due to automation and new tasks—can be inferred from industry-level data. Our empirical decomposition suggests that the slower growth of employment over the last three decades is accounted for by an acceleration in the displacement effect, especially in manufacturing, a weaker reinstatement effect, and slower growth of productivity than in previous decades.

JEL-codes: D24 J23 J24 J31 O33 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2019
Note: DOI: 10.1257/jep.33.2.3
References: View references in EconPapers View complete reference list from CitEc
Citations: View citations in EconPapers (18) Track citations by RSS feed

Downloads: (external link)
https://www.aeaweb.org/doi/10.1257/jep.33.2.3 (application/pdf)
https://www.aeaweb.org/articles/attachments?retrie ... azrChmUEWrwGBRouaWyf (application/zip)
https://www.aeaweb.org/articles/attachments?retrie ... EMYr7IHQx1OkTsshfsSV (application/pdf)
https://www.aeaweb.org/articles/attachments?retrie ... tYEO_9YVVt6UDa8-F1XX (application/zip)

Related works:
Working Paper: Automation and New Tasks: How Technology Displaces and Reinstates Labor (2019) Downloads
Working Paper: Automation and New Tasks: How Technology Displaces and Reinstates Labor (2019) Downloads
Working Paper: Automation and New Tasks: How Technology Displaces and Reinstates Labor (2019) Downloads
This item may be available elsewhere in EconPapers: Search for items with the same title.

Export reference: BibTeX RIS (EndNote, ProCite, RefMan) HTML/Text

Persistent link: https://EconPapers.repec.org/RePEc:aea:jecper:v:33:y:2019:i:2:p:3-30

Ordering information: This journal article can be ordered from
https://www.aeaweb.org/journals/subscriptions

Access Statistics for this article

Journal of Economic Perspectives is currently edited by Enrico Moretti

More articles in Journal of Economic Perspectives from American Economic Association Contact information at EDIRC.
Bibliographic data for series maintained by Michael P. Albert ().

 
Page updated 2020-07-23
Handle: RePEc:aea:jecper:v:33:y:2019:i:2:p:3-30