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FINNUT-Forskning og innovasjon i utdanningssektoren

When Robots meet the Nordic model: job creation, destruction or retraining? (RoboNord)

Alternative title: Når robotene møter den nordiske modellen: jobbskaping, nedleggelser eller opplæring?

Awarded: NOK 12.0 mill.

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Project Period:

2021 - 2025


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The goal of this project is to investigate the impact of robotization on skills requirements and labor market outcomes for firms and individuals. We study these effects both at the individual and firm level, but in order to capture spillover effects, we also move our analysis to the regional level. First, we will analyze the short and long-term relative impacts of robotization on wages and employment for different groups of workers, where groups are based on education levels, the type of education, occupation type, as well as the type of skills and tasks required for each job. Second, we will analyze whether robotization increases wage inequality between firms that adopt robots and those that do not. In order to improve our understanding of the mechanisms that link robotization with wage and employment changes, we will study how unions change the effects from robotization, and the economic significance of investments in reskilling following the introduction of industrial robots. We also examine the extent to which robotization changes the incentives for worker to organize. Third, we will examine the interplay between robotization and digitalization, as well as their joint effects on labor market outcomes. Finally, we will investigate whether robotization could lead to the return of offshored jobs to Norway (reshoring). We complement register data from Statistics Norway as well as data from the International Federation of Robots, that provide quantitative answers to the questions, with qualitative studies of the introduction of robots in firms to provide answers that cannot easily be obtained with register data

Robotisation poses a fundamental challenge to the way work is organised. Data from the International Federation of Robotics (IFR) show that orders of industrial robots have risen fivefold between 2001 and 2017, and experts expect this trend to accelerate (OECD, 2019). This development raises several issues. Increased robotisation represents a threat to certain jobs as robots take over tasks previously done by humans. However, robotisation also increases the demand for other tasks, and may improve the overall productivity of the firm, with potentially more rents to share. There is no consensus in the academic literature about the overall effects of robotisation. There is very little firm and individual level evidence on how robots affect employment and wages for different types of workers and competencies. When it comes to mechanisms, we know little about the processes and negotiations that occur between workers, unions and firms in the process of robotisation. Furthermore, there is a lack of knowledge on how robots fit in with other technological processes, such as digitalisation, how robotisation interacts with offshoring, and on the interaction between labour market institutions and robotisation. RoboNord addresses these knowledge needs by analysing, both at the firm and at the regional level, how robotisation affects employment, wages, training, and reskilling of different types of workers. We consider the interaction between other technologies and offshoring and estimate the effects on inequality and the segregation of workers across firms. RoboNord is an interdisciplinary collaborative project, combining register data and qualitative analysis. It has a strong comparative focus through collaboration, with leading researchers from Uppsala University, Harvard University, Cornell University and the US Census, which allows us to compare the effects of the introduction of robots in the Nordics to the effects of robots in the US.

Funding scheme:

FINNUT-Forskning og innovasjon i utdanningssektoren