Robots don't steal jobs finds research on the Japanese economy

Japan leads the world in deploying robots. So, if we want to know whether robots destroy jobs, let's take a look at Japan.

According to research from Daisuke Adachi, Daiji Kawaguchi, and Yukiko Saito "robots are complementary to employment."

They said a "one percent decrease in robot price increased adoption by 1.54 per cent. Perhaps more surprisingly, we also find that a 1 per cent decrease in robot price increased employment by 0.44 per cent This finding implies that robots and labour are gross complements."

In the software world, the robotic process automation (RPA) companies have long made a similar claim. They say that RPA doesn't destroy jobs, instead it removes the necessity to carry out specific mind-numbingly tedious tasks, freeing people up for more rewarding tasks.

There is a puzzle, however.

The whole point of robots or indeed RPA surely is to increase productivity. Yet productivity in Japan, measured by output per hour, is the lowest in the G7.

On the question of automation and jobs, and whether we need a robot tax or provide universal basic income, it seems that things just get curiouser and curiouser.

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