The Future of Work

Student thesis: Master thesis (including HD thesis)

  • Emma Munk
  • Erik Møller Nielsen
4. term, Science in Economics, Master (Master Programme)
How does technological development affect jobs? And does working with robots and
advanced technology change the way we work? These are the main questions this
project sets out to investigate, under the main theme: work of the future. The problem
in the first aspect is first and foremost whether technological progress reduces the need
for human labor and thus has a negative effect on employment. More specifically, the
project aspire to tell how employment is affected by technological changes, measured
by productivity increases. The project also wants to examine the significance of which
sectors productivity growth is originating and moreover whether these differences
in productivity growth creates a distortion in the demand for particular educational
groups. The aim of the second aspect is to investigate whether working with technology
affects the content of our work, and if so, what consequences does it have.
Overall, the project does not find that technological progress has been employmentreducing
over the study period, but actually that it has been significantly employmentpromoting.
This is true despite the fact that industries experiencing increased labor
productivity are also experiencing a direct decline in employment. The explantion
to this is that indirect effects, also referred to as spillover effects, from productivity
growth in the rest of the economy largely dominates the negative direct effects. The
project also finds notable differences between sectors in how much they contribute job
creation, and finds that it is not a given that spillover effects even occur. Therefore it is
of great significance where productivity growth occurs if we want it to have a positive
impact on employmnet. Lastly, the fear of technolgy favorising specific educational
groups on the job market, namely the highly educated at the expense of the unskilled,
was not found to be true. However some differences were found. By our calculations,
productivity-driven employment growth, in Denmark, would mean a specifically high
employment increase for the middle-skilled workers.
As for the second aspect, more workers than ever are using techonology in their jobs
and it looks like even more workers will use it in the future, and especially advanced
technologies. Advanced technology and artificial intelligence will gradually be able
to do more tasks and therefore many routine task will gradually dissapear. We find
that more people are facing complex tasks compared to routine tasks, and espcially
high-skilled workers. People who work with controlling robots will face more routine
tasks than people not working with it, and vice versa for data from a computer. Not
all changes are desirable for the Danish workers as a whole, but probably even less for
specific groups among the workers. Here, we find huge differences among the groupe,
where low-skilled blue-collar workers are among workers with the lowest jobsercurity
and good career opportunities.
Publication date19 Oct 2020
Number of pages136
ID: 383027809