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Artificial Intelligence and Jobs: The Role of Demand

James Bessen

Chapter in NBER book The Economics of Artificial Intelligence: An Agenda (2019), Ajay Agrawal, Joshua Gans, and Avi Goldfarb, editors (p. 291 - 307)
Conference held September 13-14, 2017
Published in May 2019 by University of Chicago Press
© 2019 by the National Bureau of Economic Research

In manufacturing, technology has sharply reduced jobs in recent decades. But before that, for over a century, employment grew, even in industries experiencing rapid technological change. What changed? Demand was highly elastic at first and then became inelastic. The effect of artificial intelligence (AI) on jobs will similarly depend critically on the nature of demand. This paper presents a simple model of demand that accurately predicts the rise and fall of employment in the textile, steel and automotive industries. This model provides a useful framework for exploring how AI is likely to affect jobs over the next 10 or 20 years.

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This chapter first appeared as NBER working paper w24235, AI and Jobs: the role of demand, James Bessen
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