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Technology and Work: Key Stylized Facts for the Digital Age

Abstract

The complex relationships between technology and employment can be summarized in a set of stylized facts – based on extensive research results – that describe the process of technological change, the nature of digital technologies, and the impact on the quantity and quality of jobs, on skills, and on wages. In short, technology is shaped by social relations, and in the digital age, the nature of economic activity and work is deeply changing. The aim of innovation has long been to save human labour, with the potential to create technological unemployment, but different technological strategies have contrasting employment effects that may be investigated at the firm, industry, and macroeconomic levels, with industries showing different employment dynamics associated to the broader process of structural change and international production. The dynamics of technological change can hardly be understood with an equilibrium view of the economy, as growth dynamics, catching up, demand patterns, structural change, and business cycles play a major role in shaping the impact of technology. Labour market conditions are relevant, but the impact of technology on jobs requires a broader frame of analysis, including the economic structure and social relations, the institutional setting, and policy choices. New technologies tend to have a differentiated impact across occupations and skills, and they are often an engine of inequality; profits benefit more than wages, and wage disparities increase. Public policies are needed to address the variety of economic and social challenges associated to the evolution of technologies, digitalization, and their impact on jobs and wages.

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Pianta, M. (2020). Technology and Work: Key Stylized Facts for the Digital Age. In: Zimmermann, K. (eds) Handbook of Labor, Human Resources and Population Economics. Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-57365-6_3-1

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-57365-6_3-1

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