The Impact of Digital Technologies on Worker Tasks: Do Labor Policies Matter?

53 Pages Posted: 16 Feb 2018

See all articles by Rita Almeida

Rita Almeida

Universitat Pompeu Fabra; IZA Institute of Labor Economics

Carlos Henrique Leite Corseuil

Institute of Applied Economic Research (IPEA)

Jennifer Poole

American University - School of International Service

Date Written: January 08, 2018

Abstract

Between 1999 and 2006, Brazilian cities experienced strong growth in the provision of internet services, driven in part by the privatization of the telecommunications industry. A main concern of policymakers is that digital technology replaces routine, manual tasks, displacing lower-skilled workers. In Brazil, stringent labor market institutions exist to protect workers from such shocks, but by increasing labor costs, labor policy may also constrain firms from adjusting the workforce and fully benefiting from technology adoption. We show that digital technology adoption shifted the demand for skills toward an increased use of non-routine and cognitive tasks. Furthermore, and in contrast with labor policy intentions, we show that de facto labor market regulations differentially benefit the most skilled workers, particularly those workers employed in non-routine and cognitive tasks. Our results point to important changes in the future of labor markets in middle-income settings and warn for distortive and unintended consequences of labor market policies.

Keywords: digital technology, skills, labor regulations

JEL Classification: J240, J480, O300, O150

Suggested Citation

Kullberg Almeida, Rita and Leite Corseuil, Carlos Henrique and Poole, Jennifer, The Impact of Digital Technologies on Worker Tasks: Do Labor Policies Matter? (January 08, 2018). CESifo Working Paper Series No. 6798, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3123622

Rita Kullberg Almeida

Universitat Pompeu Fabra ( email )

Ramon Trias Fargas 25-27
08005 Barcelona
Spain

IZA Institute of Labor Economics

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072
Germany

Carlos Henrique Leite Corseuil

Institute of Applied Economic Research (IPEA) ( email )

Av. Presidente Antonio Carlos 51
14 andar, Castelo
RJ 20020-010 Rio de Janeiro
Brazil
+55 21 3804-8000 (Phone)
+55 21 2240-1920 (Fax)

Jennifer Poole (Contact Author)

American University - School of International Service ( email )

4400 Massachusetts Ave, NW
Washington, DC 20016
United States

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