A Look Back: Lessons from the past - How electrification affected jobs and the labour market

Ratio Seminarium: Hur pΓ₯verkar AI-utvecklingen jobben?

Jonathan Jayes - Lund University


  1. Electrification is a cannonical example of a General Purpose Technology (GPT)

  1. When this new technology was adopted in Sweden:
  • It made individuals richer πŸ’°πŸ”‹
  • It lowered inequality πŸ“‰πŸ€
  • It allowed structural change on the labor market πŸ”§πŸ’Ό
  • It created new kinds of jobs πŸ€–πŸ‘©β€πŸ”§
  • It benefitted those in the middle of the skill distribution πŸŽ“πŸ”Œ

Why do we care about the second industrial revolution?

New electrical machinery in agriculture

New electrical machinery in manufacturing

New technology with rapid adoption in Sweden

How do we know what happened to early elecrifiers?

Individual level census data

Geographical variation in electrification

What happened to early electrifiers in Sweden?

No large unemployment effects in areas who electrified first

Incomes were markedly higher in areas that electrified first

Income was shared more equally in areas that electrified first

What were the mechanisms behind these effects?

What are the new jobs that were created?

What can we learn from this era of technological change?

  1. New kinds of jobs were created with the new technology πŸŽ›οΈπŸ‘©β€πŸ’»

  2. The new jobs were not necessarily high-skilled πŸŽ“β¬‡οΈ

    • learning by doing / on the job training πŸ§‘β€πŸ”§πŸ’‘
    • creation of middle-skilled jobs πŸ‘¨β€πŸ’ΌπŸ”¨
  3. It met people where they were πŸ“πŸ€

    • the new jobs were created in the same areas as the old jobs 🏭➑️🏒

Why is this time different? πŸ•°οΈπŸ”„πŸ€”

Thank you