The Risk of Automation for Jobs in OECD Countries: A Comparative Analysis

Discussion und Working Paper
Discussion und Working Paper

The Risk of Automation for Jobs in OECD Countries: A Comparative Analysis

In recent years, there has been a revival of concerns that automation and digitalisation might after all result in a jobless future. The debate has been fuelled by studies for the US and Europe arguing that a substantial share of jobs is at "risk of computerisation". These studies follow an occupation-based approach proposed by Frey and Osborne (2013), i.e. they assume that whole occupations rather than single job-tasks are automated by technology. As we argue, this might lead to an overestimation of job automatibility, as occupations labelled as high-risk occupations often still contain a substantial share of tasks that are hard to automate. Our paper serves two purposes. Firstly, we estimate the job automatibility of jobs for 21 OECD countries based on a task-based approach. In contrast to other studies, we take into account the heterogeneity of workers’ tasks within occupations. Overall, we find that, on average across the 21 OECD countries, 9 % of jobs are automatable. The threat from technological advances thus seems much less pronounced compared to the occupation-based approach. We further find heterogeneities across OECD countries. For instance, while the share of automatable jobs is 6 % in Korea, the corresponding share is 12 % in Austria. Differences between countries may reflect general differences in workplace organisation, differences in previous investments into automation technologies as well as differences in the education of workers across countries.

Find data on automation potentials by occupation for the US

Arntz, Melanie, Terry Gregory und Ulrich Zierahn (2016), The Risk of Automation for Jobs in OECD Countries: A Comparative Analysis , OECD Social, Employment and Migration Working Papers No. 189, Paris