For Work / Against Work
Debates on the centrality of work

"Is this time different? How digitalization influences job creation and destruction"

by Balsmeier, Benjamin; Woerter, Martin (2019)


With the process of digitalization now in full swing, many are wondering how the adoption of new technologies influences job creation and destruction. Much hinges upon the specific tasks that machines take on and how many new tasks are created through the adoption of new digital technologies. Some argue that most tasks that are at risk of automation are those performed by rather low- to medium-skilled employees, while most new tasks that emerge from the adoption of digital technologies complement high-skilled labor. We present evidence derived from representative survey data from Switzerland that is consistent with this view. Specifically, we find that increased investment in digitalization is associated with increased employment of high-skilled workers and reduced employment of low-skilled workers, with a slightly positive net effect. The main effects are almost entirely driven by firms that employ machine-based digital technologies, e.g. robots, 3D printing or the Internet of Things. We do not find any significant employment effects when non-machine-based digital technologies are considered, e.g. ERP, e-commerce or cooperation support systems.


Digitalization, Employment, Innovation, Job Creation, Job Destruction, Technological Change



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