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Robots, labor markets, and universal basic income

Cabrales, A; Hernández, P; Sánchez, A; (2020) Robots, labor markets, and universal basic income. Humanities and Social Sciences Communications , 7 , Article 185. 10.1057/s41599-020-00676-8. Green open access

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Abstract

Automation is a big concern in modern societies in view of its widespread impact on many socioeconomic issues including income, jobs, and productivity. While previous studies have concentrated on determining the effects on jobs and salaries, our aim is to understand how automation affects productivity, and how some policies, such as taxes on robots or universal basic income, moderate or aggravate those effects. To this end, we have designed an experiment where workers make productive effort decisions, and managers can choose between workers and robots to do these tasks. In our baseline treatment, we measure the effort made by workers who may be replaced by robots, and also elicit firm replacement decisions. Subsequently, we carry out treatments in which workers have a universal basic income of about a fifth of the workers’ median wages, or where there is a tax levy on firms who replace workers by robots. We complete the picture of the impact of automation by looking into the coexistence of workers and robots with part-time jobs. We find that the threat of a robot substitution does not affect the amount of effort exerted by workers. Also, neither universal basic income nor a tax on robots decrease workers’ effort. We observe that the robot substitution tax reduces the probability of worker substitution. Finally, workers that benefit from managerial decisions to not substitute them by more productive robots do not increase their effort level. Our conclusions shed light on the interplay of policy and workers behavior under pervasive automation.

Type: Article
Title: Robots, labor markets, and universal basic income
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1057/s41599-020-00676-8
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1057/s41599-020-00676-8
Language: English
Additional information: This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article’s Creative Commons license, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article’s Creative Commons license and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this license, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/.
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS > Dept of Economics
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10118705
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