South Asia Research Centre Adda Seminar Series
Abstract: Recent progress in robotics and artificial intelligence has generated intense debate on the impact of automation on employment. Various commentators have made substantial claims of pending technological unemployment in developed countries due to the displacement of workers by machines. Extrapolating these findings to developing countries is, however, misleading and does not acknowledge structural differences in labour markets. This paper argues that a fresh look at the theory and empirics of the relationship between technology and employment in developing countries is needed. Rather than speculation on the pending invasion of robots, a realistic approach is required, which acknowledges both technological progress in new sectors and the effects of technology on traditional segments of the economy, including agriculture. Policymakers in developing countries such as India do need to recognize the implications of skill-biased technological change for the future of work but, overall, longer-term factors driving labour market outcomes arguably require greater attention.
Bio: Sher Singh Verick is Visiting Fellow at the Australia South Asia Research Centre, Australian National University and Deputy Director of the International Labour Organization (ILO) Decent Work Team for South Asia and Country Office for India. Prior to this position, he was Senior Employment Specialist in the Delhi office, leading the ILO’s support to governments in South Asia on employment policy formulation and related research, and Senior Research Economist for the ILO in Geneva. He has also worked for the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa and various research institutions in Europe and Australia. He holds a master’s degree in development economics from the Australian National University and a PhD in economics from the University of Bonn. Since December 2004, he is a Research Fellow of the Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA). He has published in a range of journals and has authored or edited a number of volumes including Transformation of Women at Work in Asia: An Unfinished Development Agenda (2016), Perspectives on Labour Economics for Development (2013), and the Labour Markets of Emerging Economies (2013).