Exposure to industrial robots in the workplace leads to less participation in the labor force, less employment, and less pay, according to economics researchers.
In a paper titled "How do Workers and Households Adjust to Robots? Evidence from China," distributed by the National Bureau of Economics Research, co-authors Osea Giuntella, Yi Lu, and Tianyi Wang analyzed the effects that industrial robots have on workers and their families.
China has the largest number of industrial robots in the world but lags behind more advanced economies on a per capita basis, the authors observed. According to the International Federation of Robotics, South Korea, Singapore, Japan, Germany, and Sweden have the most robots per 10,000 employees, followed by Hong Kong, the US, Taiwan, and China. The researchers observe that investment in robots may help China increase productivity amid rising labor costs, increasing international competition, and an ageing population.
They point to industrial manufacturing firm Foxconn, noting that between 2012 and 2016 the maker of iPhones replaced more than 400,000 jobs in China with robots as part of an effort to achieve 30 percent factory automation by 2020.