Technological Innovation & The Future of Work: A View from the South

A global narrative about technological change and the future of work is emerging. It states that technological innovation will be pervasive across the world, and the impacts on labor markets will be deep but largely transitory. Will the future of work look the same everywhere? On the one hand, evidence points to developing countries lagging behind in terms of technological diffusion and the re-skilling of their current and future workers. This could exacerbate development gaps with respect to advanced countries as has happened in previous technological “revolutions”. On the other, structural factors that are country-specific —such as demographics, factor endowments, gender gaps— may cause new technologies to have different impacts on labor markets. We believe that the menu of policy options that the G20 is developing should ideally start with country-specific diagnoses taking into account these structural factors. However, given that this may be unreachable in the short run, we recommend to start monitoring the trends in technological adoption and skills development in each G20 country. For this, more and better data is needed.

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