Machines and foreigners

I’ve been reading in the area of overlap between labour market analysis, theory of the firm and trade theory. Well, to be strictly accurate, at the edges of those three areas of economics closest to each other, for their isn’t all that much overlap. David Autor comes closest in his recent work on inequality, technology and globalization. Richard Baldwin and others have come at it from the other side with their work on trade in tasks, bringing trade theory closer to theories of production. There’s more on the overlap between technology and the labour market of course. Standout books for me are Claudia Goldin and Ian Katz, [amazon_link id=”0674035305″ target=”_blank” ]The Race Between Education and Technology[/amazon_link], and Frank Levy and Richard Murnane, [amazon_link id=”0691124027″ target=”_blank” ]The New Division of Labour[/amazon_link].

[amazon_image id=”0674035305″ link=”true” target=”_blank” size=”medium” ]Race between Education and Technology[/amazon_image]

In addition there has been the whole recent ‘the robots are eating our jobs‘ riff – but I’m more convinced than ever that this is over-simplified. For one thing, you just can’t think properly about the robots without adding offshoring and trade into the mix. Just as a shift in the ease of trade is similar to an advance in technology in its economic effects, a big increase in the potential for using foreign workers for some functions is similar to using more technology.

I’ll be writing something up eventually and will post it when I do.