Race, Ethnicity, and the Future of Work
No e37cu, SocArXiv from Center for Open Science
Leading up to and following the 2016 American presidential election, “White working class” employment and political agency has become particularly salient. A simultaneous discussion on the role of automation in unemployment complicates the political narrative; by one estimate, 47% of American jobs are at risk of computerization (Frey and Osborne, 2013). This study analyzes how occupational automation corresponds with racial and ethnic demographics within occupational groups from both a historical and contemporary perspective. I find that throughout American industrialization, non-White and immigrant workers shifted to low-wage, unskilled work because of the political and social limitations imposed upon these groups. In the context of today’s AI-driven automation, I find that White workers are more heavily affected by automatability than other racial groups. Conversely, however, I found that the proportion of White workers in an occupation is negatively correlated with an occupation’s automatability. I conclude with suggestions for a susceptibility-based approach to predicting employment outcomes from AI-driven automation.
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