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 automatability, 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 automatability 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.