The seminar will take place on 20-22 January 2023. The first meeting will take place on 13 October 2022 from 6-8pm as planned.
Technological change in the labor market is a topic recently gaining much attention from scholars and news outlets alike. The big question is, if technological change in the labor market in the form of automation, robots or artificial intelligence replaces jobs or restructures the labor market. One main finding is that automation leads to job polarization. Especially jobs in occupations which require middle-level education and skills are being replaced by automation, whereas lower-level jobs and higher-level jobs are expanding their share of the labor market (Autor and Dorn 2013; Goos, Manning, and Salomons 2009). Service-sector jobs like cleaning or inter-personal occupations are not replaced and university-educated occupations even profit from technological change. This creates a new labor market risk for a previously rather stable and well-off group of workers, which consists mainly of factory workers and office clerks. This classic clientele of the post-war welfare state, which had profited from stable long-term employment relationships and generous social security, becomes threatened by unemployment through technological change. How this affects preferences and attitudes is the topic of many recent studies, trying to understand the effects of automation on the quality of democracy.
It is not easy to quantify how much any one occupation is affected by automation. We will first have a look at the two most common concepts that are being used widely in the literature. First, there is the measure of routine-task intensity, which claims that the more routine tasks an occupation entails, the higher the risk of automation (skill-biased technological change) (Autor and Dorn 2013). Another approach by Frey and Osborne has gained a huge influence, as they quantify the amount of jobs which may be substituted by automation in the near future. They focus on the automation potential of tasks within occupations, claiming that in the US 47% of all jobs are at high risk of being replaced within one or two decades (Frey and Osborne 2017).
Research has shown that these workers are aware of the threat that robots pose for them (Dekker, Salomons, and Waal 2017). Recent studies find that the higher the number of robots in an area, the lower is social mobility between generations (Berger and Engzell 2022). We will further have a look at the effects on preferences and attitudes, especially regarding redistribution (Thewissen and Rueda 2019) and social policies. Do automation threatened workers prefer universal basic income over other welfare policies (Dermont and Weisstanner 2020; Busemeyer and Sahm 2021)? Are they in favor of more restrictive access to social benefits in the form of demanding labor market policies, which are tied to conditions (Im 2021)? Or do they rather prefer policies slowing down technological change over compensation (Gallego et al. 2022). Further we explore the electoral consequences of rising threat of automation in the labor market, especially with regards to the populist right (Kurer 2020; Im et al. 2019).
The seminar is meant as a safe space for practicing English in an academic context for non-native speaker. The overall aim of the seminar is to gain insight into a research field currently producing a lot of highly visible research that is also relevant for everyday political discussions. We will aim to make sense of the complex literature, compare the automation measures used and discuss strengths and weaknesses of the literature. Formative assessment (Studienleistung) consists of a presentation about one of the texts, marked assessment (Prüfungsleistung) consists of an essay about a given question digesting the literature and using it to answer an essay with an individual argument.
Some basic understanding of statistics is helpful. The seminar literature consists of quantitatively empirical papers.
Autor, David H., and David Dorn. 2013. ”The growth of low-skill service jobs and the polarization of the US Labor Market.” American Economic Review 103 (5): 1553–97. https://doi.org/10.1257/aer.103.5.1553.
Berger, Thor, and Per Engzell. 2022. ”Industrial automation and intergenerational income mobility in the United States.” Social Science Research, no. December 2021: 102686. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ssresearch.2021.102686.
Busemeyer, Marius R., and Alexandewr H. J. Sahm. 2021. ”Social Investment, Redistribution or Basic Income? Exploring the Association Between Automation Risk and Welfare State Attitudes in Europe.” Journal of Social Policy, 1–20. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0047279421000519.
Dekker, Fabian, Anna Salomons, and Jeroen van der Waal. 2017. ”Fear of robots at work: The role of economic self-interest.” Socio-Economic Review 15 (3): 539–62. https://doi.org/10.1093/ser/mwx005.
Dermont, Clau, and David Weisstanner. 2020. ”Automation and the future of the welfare state: basic income as a response to technological change?” Political Research Exchange 2 (1). https://doi.org/10.1080/2474736X.2020.1757387.
Frey, Carl Benedikt, and Michael A Osborne. 2017. ”The future of employment: How susceptible are jobs to computerisation?” Technological Forecasting and Social Change 114: 254–80. https://doi.org/https://doi.org/10.1016/j.techfore.2016.08.019.
Gallego, Aina, Alexander Kuo, Dulce Manzano, and José Fernández-Albertos. 2022. Technological Risk and Policy Preferences. Vol. 55. 1. https://doi.org/10.1177/00104140211024290.
Goos, Maarten, Alan Manning, and Anna Salomons. 2009. ”Job polarization in Europe.” American Economic Review 99 (2): 58–63. https://doi.org/10.1257/aer.99.2.58.
Im, Zhen Jie. 2021. ”Automation risk and support for welfare policies: How does the threat of unemployment affect demanding active labour market policy support?” Journal of International and Comparative Social Policy 37 (1): 76–91. https://doi.org/10.1017/ics.2020.22.
Im, Zhen Jie, Nonna Mayer, Bruno Palier, and Jan Rovny. 2019. ”The ‘losers of automation’: A reservoir of votes for the radical right?” Research and Politics 6 (1): 2053168018822395. https://doi.org/10.1177/2053168018822395.
Kurer, Thomas. 2020. ”The Declining Middle: Occupational Change, Social Status, and the Populist Right.” Comparative Political Studies 53 (10-11): 1798–1835. https://doi.org/10.1177/0010414020912283.
Thewissen, Stefan, and David Rueda. 2019. ”Automation and the Welfare State: Technological Change as a Determinant of Redistribution Preferences.” Comparative Political Studies 52 (2): 171–208. https://doi.org/10.1177/0010414017740600.