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The effect of automation on our standard of living

22 February 2017

Automation has drastically changed our lives. Mechanical harvesting, robots to build cars, accounting software – numerous dangerous, intricate or boring tasks no longer have to be done by people. But automation also fosters the fear that jobs are disappearing and income inequality is growing. The political consequences of this growing inequality are crystal clear – populist parties are on the rise. These developments are not unrelated, says economist Robert Inklaar. ‘It is precisely those regions of the United States where robots are used the most that helped Donald Trump win the election.’

According to Inklaar, we are at a tipping point. Is it time to call a halt to automation or not? ‘There are several ways to do this, for example by taxes, strong trades unions or by training more people at a higher level. I hope that my research will make a direct contribution to current social issues. It is particularly important now that we better understand how automation and inequality are related so that society – we – can make timely choices.’

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Last modified:28 September 2021 2.34 p.m.
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