Technology and Engineering > Automation

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Mariarosaria Comunale and Andrea Manera
We review the literature on the effects of Artificial Intelligence (AI) adoption and the ongoing regulatory efforts concerning this technology. Economic research encompasses growth, employment, productivity, and income inequality effects, while regulation covers market competition, data privacy, copyright, national security, ethics concerns, and financial stability. We find that: (i) theoretical research agrees that AI will affect most occupations and transform growth, but empirical findings are inconclusive on employment and productivity effects; (ii) regulation has focused primarily on topics not explored by the academic literature; (iii) across countries, regulations differ widely in scope and approaches and face difficult trade-offs.
Manuk Ghazanchyan, Alexei Goumilevski, and Alex Mourmouras
This paper examines the welfare effects of automation in neoclassical growth models with and without intergenerational transfers. In a standard overlapping generations model without such transfers, improvements in automation technologies that would lower welfare can be mitigated by shifts in labor supply related to demographics or pandemics. With perfect intergenerational transfers based on altruism, automation could raise the well-being of all generations. With imperfect altruism, fiscal transfers (universal basic income) and public policies to expand access to education opportunities can alleviate much of the negative effect of automation.
Andrew Berg, Edward F Buffie, Mariarosaria Comunale, Chris Papageorgiou, and Luis-Felipe Zanna
The current wave of technological revolution is changing the way policies work. This paper examines the growth and distributional implications of three policies when “robot'' capital (a broad definition of robots, Artificial Intelligence, computers, big data, digitalization, networks, sensors and servos) is introduced in a neoclassical growth model. 1) cuts to the corporate tax rate; 2) increases in education spending; and 3) increases in infrastructure investment. We find that incorporating “robot'' capital into the model does make a big difference to policy outcomes: the trickle-down effects of corporate tax cuts on unskilled wages are attenuated, and the advantages of investment in infrastructure, and especially in education, are bigger. Based on our calibrations grounded on new empirical estimates, infrastructure investment and corporate tax cuts dominate investment in education in a "traditional" economy. However, in an economy with “robots” the infrastructure investment dominates corporate tax cuts, while investment in education tends to produce the highest welfare gains of all. The specific results, of course, may depend on the exact modeling of the technological change, but our main results remain valid and can provide more accurate welfare rankings.
Manabu Nose
How could the GovTech improve budget processes and execution efficiency? Could the GovTech strengthen redistributive function of public expenditure? Based on an event-study method, this paper finds that the introduction of digital budget payments and e-procurement could significantly enhance budget transparency and help expand the coverage of social assistance to reach the most vulnerable population. Exploiting staggered adoption of digital budget payments, a synthetic control regression identifies meaningful increase in pre-tax income shares among the bottom 50th percentile and female workers, especially for emerging market and developing countries, with effects materializing gradually over 10-year period. The paper delves into the potential mechanism driving these equity benefits, highlighting the reduction in business informality as a primary channel. However, the paper emphasizes that the mere adoption of GovTech strategies or digital technologies is insufficient to unlock its full potential. The outcomes are intricately linked to supporting policies, regulations, organizational and system integration, and robust digital connectivity. The paper underscores that inter-agency coordination facilitated by a dedicated GovTech institution emerges as a critical factor for reaping both efficiency and equity gains from GovTech initiatives.
David Amaglobeli, Ruud A. de Mooij, Andualem Mengistu, Mariano Moszoro, Manabu Nose, Soheib Nunhuck, Sailendra Pattanayak, Lorena Rivero del Paso, Frankosiligi Solomon, Ms. Rebecca Sparkman, Hervé Tourpe, and Gerardo Uña
Digital divide across countries and within countries continues to persist and even increased when the quality of internet connection is considered. The note shows that many governments have not been able to harness the full potential of digitalization. Governments could play important role to facilitate digital adoption by intervening both on supply (investing in infrastructure) and demand side (increase internet affordability). The note also documents significant dividends from digital adoption for revenue collection and spending efficiency, and for outcomes in education, health and social safety nets. The note also emphasizes that digitalization is not a substitute for good governance and that comprehensive reform plans embedded in National Digital Strategies (NDS) combined with legal and institutional reforms are needed to ensure that governments can reap full benefits from digitalization and manage the risks appropriately.
Mr. Sakai Ando, Mr. Ravi Balakrishnan, Bertrand Gruss, Mr. Jean-Jacques Hallaert, La-Bhus Fah Jirasavetakul, Koralai Kirabaeva, Nir Klein, Ana Lariau, Lucy Qian Liu, Mr. Davide Malacrino, Mr. Haonan Qu, and Alexandra Solovyeva
In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic caused by far the largest shock to European economies since World War II. Yet, astonishingly, the EU unemployment rate had already declined to its pre-crisis level by 2021Q3, and in some countries the labor force participation rate is at a record high. This paper documents that the widespread use of job retention schemes has played an essential role in mitigating the pandemic’s impact on labor markets and thereby facilitating the restart of European economies after the initial lockdowns.
Mr. Andrew Berg, Lahcen Bounader, Nikolay Gueorguiev, Hiroaki Miyamoto, Mr. Kenji Moriyama, Ryota Nakatani, and Luis-Felipe Zanna
Many studies predict massive job losses and real wage decline as a result of the ongoing widespread automation of production, a trend that may be further aggravated by the COVID-19 crisis. Yet automation is also expected to raise productivity and output. How can we share the gains from automation more widely, for the benefit of all? And what are the attendant equity-efficiency trade-offs? We analyze this issue by considering the effects of fiscal policies that seek to redistribute the gains from automation and address income inequality. We use a dynamic general equilibrium model with monopolistic competition, including a novel specification linking corporate power to automation. While fiscal policy cannot eliminate the classic equity-efficiency trade-offs, it can help improve them, reducing inequality at small or no loss of output. This is particularly so when policy takes advantage of novel, less distortive transmission channels of fiscal policy created by the empirically observed link between corporate market power and automation.
Tahsin Saadi Sedik
COVID-19 has exacerbated concerns about the rise of the robots and other automation technologies. This paper analyzes empirically the impact of past major pandemics on robot adoption and inequality. First, we find that pandemic events accelerate robot adoption, especially when the health impact is severe and is associated with a significant economic downturn. Second, while robots may raise productivity, they could also increase inequality by displacing low-skilled workers. We find that following a pandemic, the increase in inequality over the medium term is larger for economies with higher robot density and where new robot adoption has increased more. Our results suggest that the concerns about the rise of the robots amid the COVID-19 pandemic seem justified.