It may seem intuitive to assume that technology is adopted primarily based on the benefits of technology and its impact on things like productivity. However, this is not what’s new Research From MIT programs. Instead, it argues that we tend to invest more in robotics and other automation-based technologies as our populations mature as employers strive to close gaps in the aging workforce.
“Demographic change – aging – is one of the leading factors in the adoption of robotics and other automation technologies”, The researchers explain.
Indeed, when it comes to adopting technologies, such as robotics, the authors argue that the demographics of the population make up up to 35% of the variability between countries. Moreover, a similar phenomenon seems to be occurring within states as well, with faster-moving metro areas in the United States adopting automation technologies faster than slow-moving areas.
“We provide ample evidence to strengthen the case that this is a causal link, and it is precisely driven by the industries most affected by aging and have opportunities for job automation,”“Researchers say.
Shortage of manpower
It is clear that we are in the midst of the so-called “great resignation”, and reports of unfulfilled vacancies have spread around the world in the last year. It is also true that most developed countries around the world age rapidly, with countries like Japan, Italy, Finland and Portugal aging the fastest.
MIT’s study examines a range of industrial, demographic and technological data from the 1990s to the mid-2010s. The data show a strong link between the age of the workforce, defined as the ratio of workers over the age of 56 to those aged 21 to 55, and the adoption of robotics in 60 different countries.
The age of the labor force alone is about 35% of the variance in the adoption of robots in the country, as well as about 20% of the variance in the import of robots into the country. This was especially so in countries like South Korea and Germany, both of which are aging rapidly. Indeed, the data found that the age of the population accounted for 80% of the variance in the adoption of robots between Germany and the United States.
“Our findings suggest that quite a bit of investment in robotics is not driven by the fact that this is the next ‘amazing frontier’, but because some countries have a shortage of manpower, especially middle-aged manpower that will be necessary for a blue-collar. Work,” he said. Say researchers.
After researching the adoption of other automation-based technologies in 129 countries, the researchers believe the same narrative is true for all forms of automation.
“We find the same thing when we look at other automation technologies, like numerically controlled machines or vending machines,” They explain.
Importantly, this is not a trend observed for non-automation technologies, such as computers and more standard information technology. There have also been some interesting trends in terms of how the adoption of automation technologies has affected the job market.
In Germany, for example, robots have been largely adopted due to a shortage of workers, so this is not done as a means of cutting costs but to maintain productivity. In the United States, however, this was not so the case, when automation was used to replace younger workers more often.
“This is a possible explanation for the fact that South Korea, Japan and Germany – the leaders in robotics investments and the fastest aging countries in the world – have not seen results in the labor market. [as bad] Like those in the US, The researchers explain.
Although the findings are interesting from an international point of view, the fact that they persist even when looking within countries is no less important, especially in light of the fairly clear gaps created in developed countries in recent years, quite a bit between large cities and smaller towns. Rural areas.
The researchers used the same techniques used worldwide to examine the adoption of robotics and automation in about 700 metropolitan areas across the United States between 1990 and 2015. To make the comparison as fair as possible, they tried to take into account factors like local labor trends or the industrial composition of the economy.
In general, the same trends appeared locally as appeared in the world. The older the workforce, the greater the adoption of robots and other automated technologies. For every 10 percentage point increase in the age of the local population, there is a 6.45 percentage point increase in the number of companies specializing in industrial robots.
If the “big resignation” means that the shortage of workers has become even more severe, then this study suggests that we can expect growth in automation without the attendant fears that robots will “take our job.”