Automation and Job Loss

Here are the references to the some classic studies on the effect of automation on job loss.

People have been worried about job loses from automation since the Luddites protested textile factory automation during 1780s to 1820s. The Luddites feared unemployment and end to craft workshops making fabric. They were forcefully suppressed by the British government.

Many economists thought that productivity and wages were linked but they decoupled during the 1980s and wages have been flat-ever since.

Oxford study, the Robot Study and the McKinsey study.

Over the past two years, the press has widely reported how robots and automation will reduce wages and increase unemployment. Three major studies confirm this process.  The studies, from Oxford University, NBER and McKinsey, are the most widely quoted in the press.

Now’s your chance to read them for yourself. This is some scary stuff.


The Future of Employment by Carl Benedikt Frey & Michael Osborne, Oxford University, Oxford Martin School

Oxford Study on the Future of Work

Best quote from summary: “According to their estimates, about 47 per cent of total US employment is at risk. They further provide evidence that wages and educational attainment exhibit a strong negative relationship with an occupation’s probability of computerisation.”

Oxford Martin School Program on Future Technology

MIT Technology Review Discuss the study

MIT Technology Review also has an older discussion from June 2013


Robots and Jobs: Evidence from US Labor Markets, June 2018
Daron Acemoglu, Pascual Restrepo

Best quote from summary: “According to our estimates, one more robot per thousand workers reduces the employment to population ratio by about 0.2 percentage points and wages by 0.37 percent.”


Harnessing automation for a future that works
Mckinsey Global Institute, January 2017

Best quote from summary: “In the United States, these activities make up 51 percent of activities in the economy accounting for almost $2.7 trillion in wages.”