The Department of Economics is pleased to present the annual Waterloo Arts Distinguished Lecture in Economics, with David Autor, Ford Professor of Economics at MIT, one of the world's most influential labour economists.
Why are there still so many jobs? The History and Future of Workplace Automation
Many of the great technological advances of the past two centuries have been designed to reduce human work: to substitute mechanical power for human musculature (as in the case of tractors), to replace inconsistent human handiwork with machine perfection (as in the case of assembly lines), and to eliminate slow and error-prone human calculation with digital precision (as in the case of calculators and computers).
Despite these vast labour-saving technological advances, the fraction of the adult population that is working at a job is higher now than it was 125 years ago, and it has risen in almost every decade since at least 1890. Why hasn’t automation wiped out employment? Why are there still so many jobs?
About the lecturer
Professor Autor has made significant contributions to our understanding of the recent increases in income inequality. His research has been key in identifying the links between automation, the disappearance of routine jobs and the increasing wage premium associated with university education.
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