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Risk of technological unemployment and support for redistributive policies

Abstract

In recent years, economic literature has highlighted the rising employment risks related to technological change. On the comparative political economy side, exposure to labor market risks has been investigated as a source of preference for redistribution, but so far, technological change has not been framed as a distinctive risk. In this chapter, we argue that occupational risk related to technological change can be a relevant driver for redistribution preferences, particularly in support of social policies geared at protecting workers from lack of income. We test our hypothesis on Italy, using data from Round 8 of the European Social Survey, including unique data on support for minimum income schemes (GMI) alongside universal basic income (UBI), and a measure of subjective (perceived) risk of technological unemployment alongside an objective measure based on task substitutability (the Routine Task Index). Our results show that higher levels of objective exposure to risk of technological unemployment significantly correlate with support for some income protection measures, GMI in particular. At the same time, the perceived risk of technological unemployment alone has no explanatory power. Finally, results highlight the notion of distributive deservingness as relevant for the popular support of redistributive policies.

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Sacchi, S., Guarascio, D., Vannutelli, S. (2020). Risk of technological unemployment and support for redistributive policies. In: Careja, R., Emmenegger, P., Giger, N. (eds) The European Social Model under Pressure. Springer VS, Wiesbaden. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-658-27043-8_16

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