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Symposium 2014

Virtual Library File - The Future of Employment: How susceptible are Jobs to Computerisation?

The Challenge

The time will come when technologies have completely substituted labor. No way, you say, and you are probably right: it will perhaps only be half of all labor. Indeed, a growing number of commentato ...

The time will come when technologies have completely substituted labor. No way, you say, and you are probably right: it will perhaps only be half of all labor. Indeed, a growing number of commentators think that technology is likely to have a more pronounced impact on employment than it has had in the past. While routine, codifiable tasks have already been largely automated, machines are becoming increasingly good at carrying out cognitive, formerly “human-only” tasks, such as language processing or driving. And the emergence of artificial intelligence and the digital interconnections between people will do much more; with unclear consequences for the labor market. Yet, automation is not the only reason for concern. Combine technologies with globalization and the jobs which cannot (yet) be automated will be offshored or taken over by an international superstar who can, aided be the internet, reach out to individuals anywhere on the planet.

We examine how susceptible jobs are to computerisation. To as- sess this, we begin by implementing a novel methodology to estimate the probability of computerisation for 702 detailed occupations, using a Gaussian process classifier. Based on these estimates, we examine ex- pected impacts of future computerisation on US labour market outcomes, with the primary objective of analysing the number of jobs at risk and the relationship between an occupation’s probability of computerisation, wages and educational attainment. According to our estimates, about 47 percent of total US employment is at risk. We further provide evidence that wages and educational attainment exhibit a strong negative relation- ship with an occupation’s probability of computerisation.