Technological change in Uruguay. Labor polarization and distributional effects

Autores:  Ignacio Apella,  Lourdes Rodríguez Chamussy, Gonzalo Zunino

Publicado en: Documento de Trabajo CINVE 02/2002 ISSN: 1688-6186

Abstract
Technological change, particularly the automation processes, although it could achieve increases in the economy’s overall productivity, also brings with it a distributive risk. This potential phenomenon could be as a consequence of the displacement of human labor due to the automation of particular tasks, especially those of a routine nature. This work explores the hypothesis of labor polarization in Uruguay between 2003 and 2017. The results found suggest the existence of a very incipient process of polarization of the labor force. Contrary to what has been observed in developed countries, with the exception of employment in high-skilled occupations and therefore high productivity, which has increased its participation in total employment between 2003 and 2017, the rest of the Uruguayan labor force still maintains stability in their shares or with insignificant reductions. On the other hand, those occupations with lower productivity show a moderate process of aging of their workers, while reducing the average age of workers in higher productivity occupations or intensive in non-routine cognitive tasks. Finally, the changes occurred in terms of the contents of tasks performed by the workers have not had an impact on the distribution of labor income. Indeed, the inequality has decreased during our period under study and this has been particularly as a consequence of the drop in returns to education in those occupations with higher qualifications.

Keywords: Technological change, Labour polarization, task content.

JEL Classification: J01, J22, J24.

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