CFDP 2168

Narratives About Technology-Induced Job Degradation Then and Now


Publication Date: February 2019

Pages: 24


Concerns that technological progress degrades job opportunities have been expressed over much of the last two centuries by both professional economists and the general public. These concerns can be seen in narratives both in scholarly publications and in the news media. Part of the expressed concern about jobs has been about the potential for increased economic inequality. But another part of the concern has been about a perceived decline in job quality in terms of its effects on monotony vs creativity of work, individual sense of identity, power to act independently, and meaning of life. Public policy should take account of both of these concerns, inequality and job quality.

Keywords: Labor-saving machines, Artificial intelligence, History of thought, Division of labor, Unemployment, Automation, Robotics

JEL Classification Codes: N3, J0, B0, E2