Robots’ impact on global economy projected to increase

An aging population and a slowly developing labor pool will produce a greater demand for robots, which may lead to a global shortage of robots as they become more common.

By Frank Tobe, The Robot Report January 1, 2017

In a recent article in The Washington Post by Morgan Stanley, Ruchir Sharma, strategist and author of "The Rise and Fall of Nations," provides an overview of issues involving jobs, robots, productivity, and income disparity.

Sharma suggests that the labor pool isn’t growing fast enough to support the needs of the global economy, and it may not be long before economists are worrying about a global shortage of robots to fill those needs.

In many industrial countries, from Germany to Japan to South Korea, growth in the working-age population has already peaked, which acts as a drag on the economy. Widely overlooked, however, is the fact that the population-growth slowdown is unfolding even faster in the emerging world.

China, the most prominent of those emerging countries, is already feeling the effects of four disruptive population trends:

  1. China’s working-age population growth just turned negative, and China is expected to lose 1 million workers each year for the foreseeable future.
  2. Of those coming of working age, they don’t want to work in factories because of education and other social reasons.
  3. China’s elderly share of the population is rising twice as fast as in the U.S. and four times faster than in France.
  4. Given the widespread political backlash against immigration, compensatory immigrant increases to offset aging workforces are unlikely.

The Chinese series of 5-year plans focused on bringing robotics to China, creating an in-country robotics industry, and expanding the use of robots to provide social assistance in addition to industrial production. The strategic long-view planning of the Chinese is being replicated in Japan, Korea, and throughout the EU.

It remains to be seen how this will play out in the U.S.

-Frank Tobe is the owner and publisher of The Robot Report. After selling his business and retiring from 25-plus years in computer direct marketing and materials, consulting to the Democratic National Committee, as well as major presidential, senatorial, congressional, mayoral campaigns and initiatives all across the U.S., Canada and internationally, he has energetically pursued a new career in researching and investing in robotics. This article originally appeared on The Robot Report. The Robot Report is a CFE Media content partner. 

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