Technology and the future of work in India: an exploration of the likely (or unlikely) impact of automation in developing countries

Crawford School of Public Policy | Arndt-Corden Department of Economics

Event details

ACDE Trade & Development Seminars

Date & time

Tuesday 17 October 2017
2.00pm–3.30pm

Venue

Coombs Seminar Room C, Coombs Building, Fellows Road, ANU

Speaker

Sher Singh Verick, Visiting Fellow, Australia South Asia Research Centre, and Deputy Director,International Labour Organisation Decent Work Team for South Asia and Country Office for India.

Recent progress in robotics and artificial intelligence has generated intense debate on the impact of automation on employment. Various commentators have made substantial claims of pending technological unemployment in developed countries due to the displacement of workers by machines. Extrapolating these findings to developing countries is, however, misleading and does not acknowledge structural differences in labour markets. This paper argues that a fresh look at the theory and empirics of the relationship between technology and employment in developing countries is needed. Rather than speculation on the pending invasion of robots, a realistic approach is required, which acknowledges both technological progress in new sectors and the effects of technology on traditional segments of the economy, including agriculture. Policymakers in developing countries such as India do need to recognise the implications of skill-biased technological change for the future of work but, overall, longer-term factors driving labour market outcomes arguably require greater attention.

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