Some well-known (and some lesser-known) facts about digitalisation, deindustrialisation and the future of work

Skills and Work

By Stijn Broecke.

blog52-0Today the OECD has released a new working paper by Thor Berger and Carl Frey (famous from his work on theautomatability of jobs) which provides a systematic overview of the literature examining the impact of digitalisation on labour markets. By now, the stylised facts are becoming well-known:

  • Over the course of the 20th century, technological change has increased the demand for skilled workers more than for unskilled workers (i.e. technological change has been skill-biased)
  • In more recent decades, computers and robots have been increasingly used as substitutes for workers performing routine activities (i.e. technological change has been routine-biased)
  • The latter has resulted in a “hollowing out” of the labour market in many countries in terms of jobs involving mid-level skills, combined with an expansion of low-skilled and high-skilled (i.e. job polarisation)
  • While technologies have displaced workers in a wide range of jobs, they have…

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