Advances in automation technology threaten a significant share of jobs in industries accounting for nearly a quarter of the global workforce, according to Bloomberg Economics’ estimates.
In a report released Tuesday, economists Ziad Daoud and Scott Johnson said that could mean as many as 800 million people face a high exposure to the risk of their employment becoming obsolete. The Gulf Cooperation Council, Czech Republic, Slovakia and Japan are most vulnerable to disruption from automation, they wrote.
That’s because those countries have a large segment of the workforce in the kind of simple, routine roles that can be most easily replaced by machines or already rely on cheap labor for tasks. Examples include clerical support in Japan or plant operations in central European nations.
Who Is Most Exposed to Automation?
Greater automation risks creating higher income inequality, the economists wrote. While robots were previously thought to threaten mainly low-skilled jobs, now they are seen replacing roles that can be broken down into simple mechanical steps instead. Those often fall in the middle of the income distribution, resulting in a polarization effect.
It’s not all bad news though. Some of the most-exposed countries also have rapidly aging populations, meaning the technology could help offset demographic headwinds in their economies, Daoud and Johnson said.