How automation affects worker health and mortality

A study of how occupational structural economic risk relates to long-term employee health outcomes found that people in occupations characterized by high routine intensity are likely to become UNlong-term employees and have higher disability and mortality rates, according to researchers from the Robert N. Butler Columbia Aging Center based at Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health. Until now, there has been a lack of large-scale, population-level analyzes focusing on how a person’s work is affected by technology-induced displacement and its health and social effects. The results are published online in the journalOccupational and environmental medicine.

The researchers classified all Norwegian employees in 2003 between the ages of 33 and 52 in 335 occupations using the Routine Task Intensity Index (RTI), a weighted sum of job characteristics selected according to routine cognitive or physical tasks of a profession that can potentially be automated or outsourced. The sample consisted of 416,003 men and 376,413 women.

“Because we can track the earnings and social security history of these workers for 15 years, up to 2018, we limited the data extraction to those aged 33 to 52 in 2003 – wage earners in highest age bracket – and we looked at employment and disability status in 2018 and mortality status in 2019,” noted Vegard Skirbekk, PhD, professor of population and family health at the Columbia Mailman School of Public Health and lead author.”The main findings are robust to controlling for other factors, such as education level, and persist when we compare siblings working in jobs with different intensity levels. routine.”

A second index – the Frey-Osborne Index – has also been used to more closely reflect the likelihood that expected advances in machine learning techniques will automate the tasks involved in different professions over the coming decades.

Working in an occupation with a slightly higher than average RTI score in 2003 was associated with an increased likelihood of having died in 2019, corresponding to high mortality rates of 6.7% for men and 5.5% for men. the women.

“Our finding matches previous research that found declining employment in occupations with higher RTI scores,” Skirbekk observed. “While the predicted impact of technological change on labor markets varies from study to study, many expect these economic changes to continue or even accelerate and encompass larger shares of labor. ‘economy.”

According to Skirbekk, there are several reasons why technology-induced job loss may be related to health outcomes. Holding a position that disappears over time increases the risk of job loss and makes re-employment more difficult since job offers within the same position will tend to become rare. Having a job where you have a higher risk of being fired can cause stress and a greater risk of anxiety and depression.

“This unique study underscores that we should pay more attention to the types of jobs people do – which can have negative implications for their job prospects, health and lifespan. widespread, these effects may well grow in importance in the coming years,” Skirbekk said. economic support, providing preventive health care services and giving more attention to these groups of individuals as a whole.”

Co-authors are Ole Rogeberg and Bernt Bratsberg, University of Oslo.

The research was supported by the Research Council of Norway.

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Materials provided by Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.

Michael A. Bynum