ILRIC 6332

ILRIC 6332

Course information provided by the Courses of Study 2015-2016.

After a wave of automation in the 1960s in US manufacturing, Robert Solow concluded that technological change had had no negative impact on the quantity of jobs in the US economy, but had a profound impact on the skill mix in labor demand, with some skills having become obsolete, and new ones, for which there was a short-term shortage, emerging.  Were existing labor market institutions up to the task of facilitating this transition?  Much the same debate attends the recent interest in the impact of robotics and artificial intelligence on jobs – both their quantity and their type, and the literature is increasingly extensive.  Unlike the 1960s, current waves of technological change have propelled debate on the fortunes of the middle class, through their effect not only on occupational structure, but incomes as well.  As to the quantity of jobs themselves, a recent survey of experts compiled by the Pew Research Center finds opinion split roughly down the middle:  for half, new, unimagined occupations rise to replace those in obsolescence;  for the other half, technological change portends a net loss in job creation.  This course explores the impact of technology on labor markets, (1) historically, and (2) geographically, e.g. concerns raised in Western academe have little salience to labor markets in sub-Saharan Africa (or in the developing world as a whole, where, in fact, the middle class is on the rise).  Technological change impacts not only the quantity of jobs, but their quality – real income growth of the vast majority in the US has been rather stagnant.  And technological change is outstripping the relevance of much current labor market regulation and institutions.  The "on-demand" economy enabled by the smartphone, for example, begs the question of whether contractual engagement with the labor market lies in the domain of commercial or labor contracts.  What, finally, does the future of these changes – tectonic, for some – hold for public policy?

When Offered Spring.

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Enrollment Information
Syllabi: none
  •   Regular Academic Session.  Combined with: ILRIC 4332

  • 4 Credits GradeNoAud

  • 17256ILRIC 6332  LEC 001