MIT News features a new study from Blueprint affiliate Daron Acemoglu that quantifies the extent to which automation has contributed to income inequality in the U.S. Since 1980, the income gap between more- and less-educated workers has greatly increased – Acemoglu finds that most of this growth comes from automation displacing less-educated workers.
“If you introduce self-checkout kiosks, it’s not going to change productivity all that much,” says MIT economist Daron Acemoglu. However, in terms of lost wages for employees, he adds, “It’s going to have fairly large distributional effects, especially for low-skill service workers. It’s a labor-shifting device, rather than a productivity-increasing device.”