Robots could lead to greater wage inequality, not mass unemployment, IPPR think tank warns

 
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Robots could boost productivity overall (Source: Getty)

The rise of the robots will bring with it greater inequality rather than mass unemployment, according to fresh research.

Fears of automated machines replacing humans have led to many predicting that humans will become obsolete. But analysis by the IPPR think tank warned that it is more likely to increase pay inequality and that less well paid low skilled jobs are more likely to be automated.

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“Despite the rhetoric of the rise of the robots, machines aren’t about to take all our jobs. While technological change will reshape how we work and what we do, it won’t eliminate employment," said IPPR senior research fellow Matthew Lawrence.

"A bigger challenge is arguably the effect of automation on inequality in the UK. Managed badly, the benefits of automation could be narrowly concentrated, benefiting those who own capital and highly skilled workers."

It estimates that jobs with wages worth £290bn a year - a third of all earnings in the economy - are at risk of automation. This may be offset by a rise in wages elsewhere due to higher output and productivity, which it predicts to grow by between 0.8 per cent and 1.4 per cent annually while boosting GDP by 10 per cent by 2030

Read more: Automation will be a bigger shift than industrialisation

But the think tank warned that these rewards must be distributed fairly.

"To avoid inequality rising, the government should look at ways to spread capital ownership, and make sure everyone benefits from increased automation," said IPPR research fellow Carys Roberts.

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