Robots at Work
We analyze for the first time the economic contributions of modern industrial robots, which are flexible, versatile, and autonomous machines. We use novel panel data on robot adoption within industries in seventeen countries from 1993 to 2007 and new instrumental variables that rely on robots’ comparative advantage in specific tasks. Our findings suggest that increased robot use contributed approximately 0.36 percentage points to annual labor productivity growth, while at the same time raising total factor productivity and lowering output prices. Our estimates also suggest that robots did not significantly reduce total employment, although they did reduce low-skilled workers’ employment share.