Robots set to displace millions of jobs: economist

July 11, 2017 - 5:21 PM
A robot makes a cup of coffee during the 16th China International Industry Fair in Shanghai, Nov 4, 2014. Photo/Xinhua

WASHINGTON — While industrial robots have already displaced hundreds of thousands of jobs in the U.S. since 1990, they are about to take over millions more from human hands in the next decade, said a renowned U.S. economist.

“There’s a real mismatch between our institutions and the technologies coming on board,” Daron Acemoglu, an economist at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), told Axios Media, an American news website, in an interview published on Sunday night.

Industrial robots have been replacing a range of low-skill and medium-skill occupations. A paper published in March by Acemoglu and Pascual Restrepo, another MIT economist, estimates that the U.S. has already lost between 360,000 and 670,000 jobs to robots since 1990.

In an aggressive scenario, Acemoglu estimates in the paper that industrial robots will lead to a 0.94-1.76 percentage points lower employment to population ratio and 1.3-2.6 percent lower wage growth between 2015 and 2025, indicating millions of workers could lose their jobs in the next decade.

Technological advancements have long-term social and political implications, as low-end blue collars are more vulnerable to robots.Therefore, Acemoglu said education reforms are necessary to relieve the pain inflicted on working class by new technology.