Preprint / Version 1

Economic Effects of Industrial Automation in Aging Workforces


  • Isaac Lee Crystal Springs Uplands School



industrial automation, aging workforce, artificial intellilgence, GDP per capita, labor productivity


With the advent of rapid advances in medicine and technology, as well as declining fertility rates, the portion of elderly workers participating in the world’s greatest economies is increasing. The decreased capabilities of elderly workers, as well as the dwindling number of young workers, can have negative economic consequences if left unchecked. Economists agree that this aging has caused an uptick in the implementation of industrial automation as part of an effort to combat these consequences, but its effectiveness in doing so remains a topic of debate. Some scholars argue that automation is able to overcompensate for the harms caused by an aging workforce, resulting in a net positive gain for economic indicators like GDP per capita and labor productivity, while others contend that the efforts of automation alone are not enough to fully counter the negative implications of aging. This paper attempts to gain a clearer idea of the extent to which automation alleviates the consequences of aging workforces by performing regressions of GDP per capita and labor productivity on the number of artificial intelligence patents per million people employed–which is used as a proxy for industrial automation–as well as the ratio of old workers to young workers. Ultimately, it is ascertained that industrial automation as measured by artificial intelligence patent data positively affects GDP per capita and labor productivity, albeit to a lesser extent in countries whose workforces are aging particularly quickly.


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