David Autor: Why Technological Innovation Could Increase Inequality

Jul 21, 2014

The Next American Economy project brought together 30 experts from various disciplines to envision tomorrow's economic and political challenges and develop today's solutions. Their assignment: be bold, and leave the conventional wisdom -- and their own opinions -- behind. Their goal: not to provide a researched analysis, but to stimulate debate on critical questions.In the debut entry in our new video speculation series, MIT economist David Autor talks about the future of economic polarization.

There is a long-running debate between those who worry robots are taking our jobs and those who scoff at that “lump of labor fallacy” as just another version of Luddite thinking. In the video below, Professor David Autor, the MIT economist famous for his description of how technology has helped hollow out the middle class, outlines the debate and describes how it might be possible that both sides are right.

Professor Autor discusses a scenario in which technological innovation continues to reduce the need for low-skilled labor while increasing the demand for higher-skilled workers, thus increasing wages at the top while reducing wages at the bottom.

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