During the last decade, a growing literature has been assessing the impact of industrial robots on productivity and employment. At the local level, the labour-displacing effect of robot adoption can be counterbalanced by a task reallocation between manufacturing industries characterized by similar/related occupational spaces. This reallocation process can be also influenced by the average degree of occupational complexity of the local labour markets. To test for the mediating role of similarity and complexity in the robot-employment-productivity relationship, we develop a two-step analysis mixing information from different data sources on 15 industries and 39 local labour market areas of the Emilia-Romagna region in Italy, for the period 2008–2017. Our analysis shows that higher exposure to robots does not affect the aggregate level of labour productivity, but, rather, is associated with a decline in (high routine) employment after three years. We further show that the negative relationship between robots and employment decreases, or even vanishes, in local labour markets with high cross-industry occupational similarity and low occupational or task complexity, and within industrial districts.

Robots and the productivity of local manufacturing systems in Emilia-Romagna: the mediating role of occupational similarity and complexity

Pedrini, Giulio
2023-01-01

Abstract

During the last decade, a growing literature has been assessing the impact of industrial robots on productivity and employment. At the local level, the labour-displacing effect of robot adoption can be counterbalanced by a task reallocation between manufacturing industries characterized by similar/related occupational spaces. This reallocation process can be also influenced by the average degree of occupational complexity of the local labour markets. To test for the mediating role of similarity and complexity in the robot-employment-productivity relationship, we develop a two-step analysis mixing information from different data sources on 15 industries and 39 local labour market areas of the Emilia-Romagna region in Italy, for the period 2008–2017. Our analysis shows that higher exposure to robots does not affect the aggregate level of labour productivity, but, rather, is associated with a decline in (high routine) employment after three years. We further show that the negative relationship between robots and employment decreases, or even vanishes, in local labour markets with high cross-industry occupational similarity and low occupational or task complexity, and within industrial districts.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11387/154724
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