21 Feb 2018

The Internet and Jobs

Opportunities and ambiguous trends

Lorenzo Pupillo / Eli Noam / Leonard Waverman

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Virtually all of the empirical literature on the impact of the internet on jobs indicates that the internet has indeed created many new jobs, but that a large number of jobs may also have been destroyed or downgraded in the process, at least in the short run. Furthermore, studies suggest that routinisation, job market polarisation and new labour market inequalities have emerged in recent years. Thus, while the diffusion of the internet is generating opportunities, the phenomenon also comes with ambiguous trends that by themselves will not generate a more resilient and inclusive labour market. These changes cannot be treated as business-as-usual developments by governments and the private sector. Failing to mitigate short-term job losses risks triggering pushbacks and restrictive policy responses that threaten to slow down the ICT (information, communication and technology) revolution.

Lorenzo Pupillo is Associate Senior Research Fellow at CEPS, Head of the Cybersecurity@CEPS Initiative and an affiliated researcher at Columbia Institute for Tele Information at Columbia Business School. Eli Noam is Professor of Economics and Finance and also Garrett Professor of Public Policy and Business Responsibility at the Columbia Business School. Leonard Waverman is Dean of the DeGroote School of Business at McMaster University.

This paper reproduces the introductory chapter of the forthcoming collective volume entitled Digitized Labor: The Impact of the Internet on Employment, edited by these same three authors and published by Palgrave. It is republished here on the CEPS website with the kind permission of the publisher.