NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

Low-Skill and High-Skill Automation

Daron Acemoglu, Pascual Restrepo

NBER Working Paper No. 24119
Issued in December 2017
NBER Program(s):Labor Studies

We present a task-based model in which high- and low-skill workers compete against machines in the production of tasks. Low-skill (high-skill) automation corresponds to tasks performed by low-skill (high-skill) labor being taken over by capital. Automation displaces the type of labor it directly affects, depressing its wage. Through ripple effects, automation also affects the real wage of other workers. Counteracting these forces, automation creates a positive productivity effect, pushing up the price of all factors. Because capital adjusts to keep the interest rate constant, the productivity effect dominates in the long run. Finally, low-skill (high-skill) automation increases (reduces) wage inequality.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w24119

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