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Employment Prospects in the Era of Automation

Employment Prospects in the Era of Automation, by Vahagn Jerbashian, Barcelona University, Spain.
Hosted by the Central Bank of Armenia, 6 Vazgen Sargsyan St., Yerevan, 10:00AM-Noon, July 20, 2018

This workshop discusses how the recent wave of automation of tasks in workplace affects labor demand. This wave of automation comes with significant drop in prices of computers and information technologies, in general.

Technological changes have affected labor demand in the past too. For example, steam engine powered cotton and woollen mills replaced a great deal of high-skill and specialized manual labor in textile factories during the Industrial Revolution. The movement of Luddites emerged because of this technological change. Luddites protested and destroyed these steam engines and mills. The mechanized production of textile, however, increased the demand for low-skill labor. Low-skill labor was required to operate industrial machines.

The technological changes of distant past have had a rather local effect on a small group of industries and occupations. They have usually created more jobs than they have destroyed. This time it might be different however. The reason is that computers and information technologies are used everywhere.

Computers excel in executing routine and repetitive tasks, which are usually performed in middle wage occupations. Computers also facilitate analytic work and communication, which are usually required in high wage occupations. During the workshop, we discuss occupations which are likely to be replaced by computers. I also show evidence that technological progress in computing and the resulting fall in computer prices has reduced employment in middle wage occupations and has increased employment in high wage occupations.

The presentation will draw on professor Jerbashian’s work in
Location: Central Bank of Armenia, 6 Vazgen Sargsyan St., Yerevan
Duration: 10:00AM – Noon

About presenter: Vahagn Jerbashian is an assistant professor of economics at Barcelona University, Spain. He received his PhD in economics from CERGE-EI in Prague.

AEA thanks CBA for hosting the workshop, and Professor Jerbashian for his presentation.