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Golin, M., Rauh, C.

The Impact of Fear of Automation

JIWP Number: 2229

Abstract: In this paper, we establish a causal effect of workers’ perceived probability of losing one’s job due to automation on preferences for redistribution and intentions to join a union. In a representative sample of the US workforce, we elicit the perceived fear of losing one’s job to robots or artificial intelligence. We document a strong relationship between fear of automation and intentions to join a union, retrain and switch occupations, preferences for higher taxation, higher government handouts, populist attitudes, and voting intentions. We then show a causal effect of providing information about job loss probabilities on preferred levels of taxation and handouts. In contrast, our information treatment does not affect workers’ intentions to self-insure by retraining or switching occupations, but it increases workers’ self-reported likelihood of joining a union to seek more job protection. The treatment effects are mostly driven by workers who are informed about larger job loss probabilities than they perceived.

Keywords: Automation, Inequality, information treatment, Political attitudes, Political preferences, Populism, Redistribution

Author links: Christopher Rauh  

PDF: jiwp2229.pdf

Open Access Link: 10.17863/CAM.91990

Keynes Fund Project(s):
The Impact of Automation and Fears of Job Displacement on Political Preferences (JHUQ)  

Theme: transmission