Benign Effects of Automation: New Evidence from Patent Texts

36 Pages Posted: 27 Apr 2017 Last revised: 11 May 2017

Katja Mann

Bonn Graduate School of Economics

Lukas Püttmann

University of Bonn

Date Written: May 10, 2017

Abstract

We provide a new measure of automation based on patent texts and study its impact on employment. Classifying all 5 million U.S. patents granted between 1976 and 2014 as automation or non-automation patents, we document a rise in the share of automation patents from 25 percent to 67 percent of patents during this period. We link patents to the industries of their use and, through local industry structure, to commuting zones. According to our estimates, advances in national automation technology have a positive influence on employment in local labor markets. There is substantial heterogeneity in effects, however: Manufacturing employment declines, but this is more than compensated by service sector job growth. Commuting zones with more people working in routine occupations fare worse.

Keywords: automation, employment, innovation, labor demand, patents, local labor markets

JEL Classification: J23, O34, O31, C81, D24

Suggested Citation

Mann, Katja and Püttmann, Lukas, Benign Effects of Automation: New Evidence from Patent Texts (May 10, 2017). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2959584 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2959584

Katja Mann

Bonn Graduate School of Economics ( email )

Bonn
Germany

Lukas Püttmann (Contact Author)

University of Bonn ( email )

Regina-Pacis-Weg 3
Postfach 2220
Bonn, D-53012
Germany

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