Technological innovation and the future of work: a view from the South

Ramiro Albrieu, Urvashi Aneja, Krish Chetty, Vikrom Mathur, Martin Rapetti, and Antje Uhlig –research partners of IDRC Future of Work in the Global South initiative– presented at T-20 Argentina 2018 a policy brief summarizing views from the South on the prospects of innovation.

The authors state that a global narrative about technological change and the future of work is emerging, which states that technological innovation will be pervasive across the world, and the impacts on labor markets will be deep but largely transitory. Along with the policy brief, they address the question of whether the future of work will 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.

The authors 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, they recommend to start monitoring the trends in technological adoption and skills development in each G20 country. For this, more and better data is needed.

Download the policy brief at