Poor health as a potential risk factor for job loss due to automation: the case of Norway

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Abstract

Objective

This study aimed to quantify the extent to which health characteristics of workers are related to the potential risk of experiencing job displacement due to automation.

Methods

Linking the 2015 Norwegian Statistics on Income and Living Conditions survey (n=6393) with predicted probabilities of automation by occupation, we used Kruskal-Wallis tests and multivariate generalised linear models to assess the association between long-standing illnesses and risk of job automation.

Results

Individuals with long-standing illnesses face substantially greater risks of losing their job due to automation. Whereas the average risk of job automation is 57% for men and 49% for women with long-standing illnesses, the risk is only 50% for men and 44% for women with limitations (p<0.001). Controlling for age, having a long-standing illness significantly increases the relative risk of facing job automation among men (risk ratio (RR) 1.13, 95% CI 1.09 to 1.19), as well as women (RR 1.11, 95% CI 1.05 to 1.17). While, among men, the association between long-standing illness and risk of job automation remains significant when controlling for education and income, it becomes insignificant among women.

Conclusions

Individuals with poor health are likely to carry the highest burden of technological change in terms of worsening employment prospects because of working in occupations disproportionally more likely to be automated. Although the extent of technology-related job displacement will depend on several factors, given the far-reaching negative consequences of job loss on health and well-being, this process represents a significant challenge for public health and social equity.

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