Policy Brief Series

Regardless of whether we are exploring the real-world impact of technological progress, rising inequality, tax and trade policy, or changing social norms: the UBS Center Policy Brief series can give governments and businesses the rigorous and clear insights needed for informed debates and decisions. Our policy briefs are a condensed and non-technical version of some of our top research papers. They cover a complex issue in a way that can help readers understand and decide about government policies.

Under what circumstances might the adoption of labor-saving technology lead to extreme social instability? This policy brief examines the case of the Captain Swing riots in the industrializing England of the 1830s, bringing new insights to this old episode by collecting original data on the diffusion of the threshing machine, an innovation that led to severe labor unrest in wheat-growing parts of the country. The evidence illustrates that while new technologies typically boost output overall, not everyone benefits – and the losers may not always suffer in silence. Societies need to find ways to cushion the blow of technological unemployment, perhaps by offering alternative work or providing minimum income guarantees.

Rage against the machines by Bruno Caprettini and Joachim Voth Download

Finanz und Wirtschaft, 12.11.2018: “Der Feind, die Maschine” Read

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Demand for high-skilled workers who perform cognitive tasks has increased dramatically in the United States over the past four decades, with the biggest change between 1980 and 2000. This policy brief shows that the increase in demand was not experienced equally by both genders: despite rapid growth in employment in high-paying occupations, the probability that a college-educated man was employed in such a job fell, while the prospects for college-educated women improved. The key driver seems to be growing demand for social skills, such as empathy, communication, emotion recognition and verbal expression, in which evidence from psychological research indicates that women have a comparative advantage.

The end of men by Nir Jaimovich Download

NZZ am Sonntag, 3.11.2018: “Männer sind kaum gefragt” Read

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