The utilization of robot and the replacement of workers with “smart” machines is faster in those countries where their population is getting older faster, according to a new US study. The research links for the first time the speed of automation of an economy with demographic developments and especially with the increasing percentage of older people in the general population, which results in the lack of suitable staff in the labor market.
In other words, more and more robots are coming to fill employee gaps in an increasingly aging workforce. According to the study, “aging leads to greater (industrial) automation, because it creates a shortage of middle-aged workers specialized in production.”
The study, by MIT professors Daron Atzemoglu and Boston University’s Pasquel Restrepo, published in The Review of Economic Studies, according to Reuters, analyzed data from 60 countries and found a clear correlation between aging workforce (proportion of workers over 56 compared to 21-55) and the use of robots, especially in industry.
The researchers estimate that the age factor alone explains at least a third (35%) of the differences between countries in terms of the speed of adoption of robots and the fourth industrial revolution in general, as well as one-fifth (20 %) differences in robot imports. The faster a country’s workforce ages, the more it tends to turn to automation and “smart” machines.
Thus, countries like Japan, the Ν. Korea and the Germany, where the working population is aging rapidly, are among those rushing to adopt robots widely, as shown by the ratio of robots per worker in each country. Not coincidentally, after all, Of the top 15 robotics companies in the world, seven are based in Japan and another seven in Germany.
But a similar trend is observed inside the big countries. Indicatively, on USA metropolitan areas with older workforce have seen more robotic systems installed since 1990.
“Demographic change – especially aging – is one of the most important factors leading to the adoption of robotics and other automation technologies. “Our study shows that there is a causal relationship that is primarily visible in the industries that are most affected by aging and thus have opportunities to automate work,” said prominent Turkish-American economist D. Atzemoglu.