Demographics and Automation
Daron Acemoglu and
Pascual Restrepo ()
No 24421, NBER Working Papers from National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc
We argue theoretically and document empirically that aging leads to greater (industrial) automation, and in particular, to more intensive use and development of robots. Using US data, we document that robots substitute for middle-aged workers (those between the ages of 36 and 55). We then show that demographic change—corresponding to an increasing ratio of older to middle-aged workers—is associated with greater adoption of robots and other automation technologies across countries and with more robotics-related activities across US commuting zones. We also provide evidence of more rapid development of automation technologies in countries undergoing greater demographic change. Our directed technological change model further predicts that the induced adoption of automation technology should be more pronounced in industries that rely more on middle-aged workers and those that present greater opportunities for automation. Both of these predictions receive support from country-industry variation in the adoption of robots. Our model also implies that the productivity implications of aging are ambiguous when technology responds to demographic change, but we should expect productivity to increase and labor share to decline relatively in industries that are most amenable to automation, and this is indeed the pattern we find in the data.
JEL-codes: J11 J23 J24 O33 O47 O57 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-age, nep-gro, nep-ino, nep-lab, nep-ltv, nep-pay and nep-tid
Note: AG EFG LS
References: Add references at CitEc
Citations: View citations in EconPapers (17) Track citations by RSS feed
Downloads: (external link)
Working Paper: Demographics and Automation (2018)
This item may be available elsewhere in EconPapers: Search for items with the same title.
Export reference: BibTeX
RIS (EndNote, ProCite, RefMan)
Persistent link: https://EconPapers.repec.org/RePEc:nbr:nberwo:24421
Ordering information: This working paper can be ordered from
Access Statistics for this paper
More papers in NBER Working Papers from National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Avenue Cambridge, MA 02138, U.S.A.. Contact information at EDIRC.
Bibliographic data for series maintained by ().