Do Robots Increase Wealth Dispersion?

95 Pages Posted: 22 Aug 2018 Last revised: 28 Jun 2023

See all articles by Francisco Gomes

Francisco Gomes

London Business School

Thomas Jansson

Sveriges Riksbank - Research Division

Yigitcan Karabulut

Frankfurt School of Finance & Management; CEPR

Date Written: August 13, 2018


We document significant negative effects of exposure to increased automation at work on household wealth accumulation. Beyond the income and savings channels, we uncover a novel mechanism contributing to the negative wealth effects of automation that arises through the endogenous optimal portfolio decisions of households. We show that households rebalance their financial wealth away from the stock market in response to increased human capital risk induced by pervasive automation, thereby attaining lower wealth levels and relative positions in the wealth distribution. Our evidence suggests that the portfolio channel amplifies the inequality-enhancing effects of increased automation.

Keywords: Portfolio choice, household wealth accumulation, robots, automation, labor income uncertainty.

JEL Classification: D31, J24, E21, D1, G11

Suggested Citation

Gomes, Francisco and Jansson, Thomas and Karabulut, Yigitcan, Do Robots Increase Wealth Dispersion? (August 13, 2018). Available at SSRN: or

Francisco Gomes

London Business School ( email )

Finance Department
Sussex Place - Regent's Park
London NW1 4SA
United Kingdom


Thomas Jansson

Sveriges Riksbank - Research Division ( email )

S-103 37 Stockholm

Yigitcan Karabulut (Contact Author)

Frankfurt School of Finance & Management ( email )

Adickesallee 32-34
Frankfurt am Main, 60322

CEPR ( email )

United Kingdom

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