Robotisation, Employment and Industrial Growth Intertwined Across Global Value Chains


Mahdi Ghodsi, Oliver Reiter, Robert Stehrer and Roman Stöllinger

wiiw Working Paper No. 177, April 2020
33 pages including 9 Tables and 8 Figures

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The global economy is currently experiencing a new wave of technological change involving new technologies, especially in the realm of artificial intelligence and robotics, but not limited to it. One key concern in this context is the consequences of these new technologies on the labour market. This paper provides a comprehensive analysis of the direct and indirect effects of the rise of industrial robots and productivity via international value chains on various industrial indicators, including employment and real value added. The paper thereby adds to the existing empirical work on the relationship between technological change, employment and industrial growth by adding data on industrial robots while controlling for other technological advancements measured by total factor productivity (TFP). The results indicate that the overall impact of the installation of new robots did not statistically affect the growth of industrial employment during the period 2000–2014 significantly, while the overall impact on the real value added growth of industries in the world was positive and significant. The methodology also allows for a differentiation between the impact of robots across various industries and countries based on two different perspectives of source and destination industries across global value chains.

This is a background paper for the UNIDO Industrial Development Report 2020. Industrializing in the digital age. 


Keywords: Robotisation, digitalisation, global value chains, total factor productivity, industrial growth, employment, value added

JEL classification: D57, J21, L16, O14

Countries covered: non specific

Research Areas: Labour, Migration and Income Distribution, International Trade, Competitiveness and FDI, Sectoral studies