What, if anything, can the United States do to reverse the upward trend in inequality and the danger that it will lead to populist despotism or a corrupt oligarchy with laws made for the few, not for the many?
I propose two sets of policies. The first requires reforms in labor laws and regulations to better enable workers to organize and bargain collectively with employers. The second requires tax and procurement policies to encourage firms to develop employment ownership programs so that workers own some of the capital that employs them and additional policies that increase worker investments in capital more broadly. By operating on ownership of both labor and capital, the policies can modernize American economic institutions to fit the coming world of artificial intelligence (AI) robotics and avoid Madison’s Scylla and Charybdis choice between anarchy and corruption.
Firms hire workers to undertake tasks and activities associated with particular occupations, which makes occupations a fundamental unit in economic analyses of the labor market. Using a unique set of data on pay in identically defined occupations in developing and advanced countries, we find that occupational pay differentials narrowed substantially from the 1950s to the 1980s, then widened through the 2000s in most countries, creating a U-shaped pattern of change. The narrowing was due in part to the huge worldwide increase in the supply of educated workers. The subsequent widening was due in part to the weakening of trade unions and a shift in demand to more skilled workers associated with rising trade. The data indicate that supply, demand, and institutional forces are all drivers of occupational differentials, ruling out simple single factor explanations of change. The paper concludes with a call for improving the collection of occupational wage data to understand future changes in the world of work.
Recent analyses of the potential effects of advanced technology on jobs has tended to focus on possible reductions in routine cognitive white-collar jobs due to computer algorithms and in blue-collar jobs due to robots and factory automation. This paper provides a different perspective on the possible future of work by: (1) measuring changes in job attributes/tasks from 2005 to 2015, straddling the boundary between the pre-AI and AI eras; and (2) decomposing those changes via a shift-share analysis into the changes that occurred within occupations and changes in the shares of employment between occupations with different characteristics. Our primary source of information on job characteristics over time is the Occupational Information Network (O*NET) database developed by U.S. Department of Labor's Employment and Training Administration. While prior research has used O*NET data cross-sectionally, we create a new panel dataset that allows us to analyze changes over time for 170 job characteristics from four O*NET questionnaires completed consistently by workers (job incumbents) since 2003. Per our title, we find that within-occupation changes dominate, raising doubts about the ability of projections based on expected changes in the occupational composition of employment to capture the likely future of work. Indeed, our data show only weak relationships between automatability, repetitiveness, and other job attributes and changes in occupational employment. The results suggest that analysts give greater attention to within-occupation impacts of technology in assessing the future of work.
The flow of knowledge is closely linked to proximity. While extensive works show that long‐term geographic proximity affects work behavior, little is known about the effect of short‐term colocation, such as conferences. Using participant data at Gordon Research Conferences, we estimate difference‐in‐differences and instrumental variable models, which show that attendees who have no prior within‐conference collaborations are more likely to collaborate with other attendees, and that the researchers who have worked previously with other attendees are more likely to continue their collaborations. We also find that researchers who are junior, are located closer to the conference venue, and have established prior ties to the conference draw more collaborative benefits from temporary colocation across organizations. Thus, going to a conference alters the creation of collaborations.
Abstract This chapter will review the major studies undertaken in the twenty-first century to assess the changing nature of employee voice in the Anglo-American context. These studies are predominantly based on employee perceptions but also include employer surveys and multilevel analysis.
We use a residential sorting model incorporating migration disutility to recover the implicit value of clean air in China. The model is estimated using China Population Census Data along with PM2.5 satellite data. Our study provides new evidence on the willingness to pay for air quality improvements in developing countries and is the first application of an equilibrium sorting model to the valuation of non-market amenities in China. We employ two instrumental variables based on coal-fired electricity generation and wind direction to address the endogeneity of local air pollution. Results suggest important differences between the residential sorting model and a conventional hedonic model, highlighting the role of moving costs and the discreteness of the choice set. Our sorting results indicate that the economic value of air quality improvement associated with a one-unit decline in PM2.5 concentration is up to $8.83 billion for all Chinese households in 2005.
Firms often use non-linear incentive systems to motivate workers to achieve specified goals, such as paying bonuses to reach targets in sales, production, or cost reduction. Using administrative data from a major Chinese insurance firm that raised its sales targets and rewards for insurance agents greatly in 2015, we find that increased incentives induced agents to increase sales of the increasingly incentivized life insurance products, bunched around the new targets, albeit in part with some low quality sales that led to canceled contracts, while reducing sales of products outside the new incentive system. The greater non-linear incentives raised agent incomes and lowered turnover and substantially increased firm revenues net of the increase in payments to agents. The stock market reacted to the new system with a jump in the firms’ share price relative to its main competitor by 15-20% in the days surrounding introduction of the new system.
Increased use of robots has roused concern about how robots and other new technologies change the world of work. Using numbers of robots shipped to primarily manufacturing industries as a supply shock to an industry labor market, we estimate that an additional robot reduces employment and wages in an industry by roughly as much as an additional 2 to 3 workers and by 3 to 4 workers in particular groups, which far exceed estimated effects of an additional immigrant on employment and wages. While the growth of robots in the 1996-2016 period of our data was too modest to be a major determinant of wages and employment, the estimated coefficients suggest that continued exponential growth of robots could disrupt job markets in the foreseeable future and thus merit attention from labor analysts.
China’s advance to the forefront of scientific research is one of the 21st century’s most surprising developments, with implications for a world where knowledge is arguably “the one ring that rules them all.” This paper provides new estimates of China’s contribution to global science that far exceed estimates based on the proportion of papers with Chinese addresses in the Scopus database of international scientific journals. The standard address-based measure ignores two contributions from Chinese researchers: articles written by Chinese researchers with non-Chinese addresses and articles in Chinese language scientific journals not indexed in Scopus. Taking account of these contributions, we attribute 36 percent of the 2016 global scientific publications to China. In addition, we find that citations to Chinese-addressed articles have increased from far below the global average, which helped bring China’s share of global citations to approximately 37 percent of global citations to papers published in 2013. With a share of scientific publications and citations more than twice its share of global population or GDP, China has achieved a comparative advantage in knowledge that has implications for the division of labor and trade among countries and for the direction of research and of technological and economic development worldwide.
This paper seeks to convince you that the best response to the coming dominance of AI robots in the world of work is to expand both employee ownership of firms and citizen ownership of business capital more broadly. Section 1 analyzes the likely effects of advances in AI robot technologies on the comparative advantage of machines versus humans in high-value-added work and the consequences for wages and salaries and income inequality. Section 2 argues that the best way to assure that living standards increase for all in the age of AI robots is through enhanced employee ownership and greater citizens’ stake in business capital, distributing capital income far more widely than today.
From 2000 to 2016 China increased its scientific publications in the international journals indexed by Scopus to become the largest contributor to global science, accounting for about 23% of journal articles adjusted for the Chinese share of addresses or names on publications. Publications with all-China addresses contributed the most to the increase, followed by cross-country collaborations and papers by Chinese-named researchers outside the country. The same period also saw a huge increase in scientific publications in Chinese language journals not indexed in Scopus. We estimate that while Chinese language papers gain about 1/5th as many citations as non-Chinese (largely English) papers in Scopus they are so numerous that even valued as making 1/5th the contribution of a Scopus paper, China accounts for 36% of global scientific papers defined as Scopus papers and China language equivalent papers and for 37% of citations to those papers. China's move to the forefront of scientific inquiry makes it a key driver of the direction of scientific and technological progress and of the knowledge-based economies of the foreseeable future.