Testing the Automation Revolution Hypothesis

14 Pages Posted: 10 Dec 2019 Last revised: 29 Dec 2019

See all articles by Keller Scholl

Keller Scholl

Pardee S. RAND Graduate School

Robin Hanson

George Mason University; Oxford University - Future of Humanity Institute

Date Written: December 27, 2019


Recently, many have predicted an imminent automation revolution, and large resulting job losses. Others have created metrics to predict new patterns in job automation vulnerability. As context to such claims, we test basic theory, two vulnerability metrics, and 251 O*NET job features as predictors of 1505 expert reports regarding automation levels in 832 U.S. job types from 1999 to 2019.

We find that pay, employment, and vulnerability metrics are predictive (R^2~0.15), but add little to the top 25 O*NET job features, which together predict far better (R^2~0.55). These best predictors seem understandable in terms of traditional kinds of automation, and have not changed over our time period. Instead, it seems that jobs have changed their features to become more suitable for automation.

We thus find no evidence yet of a revolution in the patterns or quantity of automation. And since, over this period, automation increases have predicted neither changes in pay nor employment, this suggests that workers have little to fear if such a revolution does come.

Keywords: automation, wages, employment, occupations, artificial intelligence, technology

JEL Classification: E24, J22, J23, J24, O33

Suggested Citation

Scholl, Keller and Hanson, Robin, Testing the Automation Revolution Hypothesis (December 27, 2019). GMU Working Paper in Economics No. 19-42, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3496364 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3496364

Keller Scholl

Pardee S. RAND Graduate School

1776 Main Street
Santa Monica, CA 90401
United States

Robin Hanson (Contact Author)

George Mason University ( email )

MS 1D3, Carow Hall
4400 University Dr.
Fairfax, VA 22030-4444
United States
703-993-2326 (Phone)
703-993-2323 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://hanson.gmu.edu

Oxford University - Future of Humanity Institute ( email )

Littlegate House
16-17 St Ebbe's Street
Oxford, OX1 1PT
United Kingdom

Do you have negative results from your research you’d like to share?

Paper statistics

Abstract Views
PlumX Metrics