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Aging, automation, and productivity in Korea1

Cyn-Young Park (), Kwanho Shin () and Aiko Kikkawa

Journal of the Japanese and International Economies, 2021, vol. 59, issue C

Abstract: This paper examines the impact of aging in the Republic of Korea on productivity as measured by labor productivity or total factor productivity (TFP). It also assesses the effect of robot adoption on the relation between aging and productivity using industrial level data. We find that aging is negatively associated with labor productivity and TFP growth. This is true particularly when aging is measured by increases in shares of old workers. If aging is measured by increases in the median age of workers, the negative effect is weaker. Evidence also suggests that robot technology mitigates aging's negative effect on productivity growth, particularly when productivity is measured by TFP. However, there is no evidence that robots are more heavily adopted in aged industries. While robot technology does not directly contribute to higher productivity growth, our findings suggest that the robot adoption can alleviate the negative impact of aging by helping workers in their 50s and 60s contribute less adversly to productivity growth.

Keywords: Aging; Automation; Robotics; Labor productivity; Total factor productivity; Growth (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: J11 J24 O33 O47 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2021
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DOI: 10.1016/j.jjie.2020.101109

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