Friday, August 1, 2014
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技术和就业挑战

米兰—各种新技术和全球化一道,正在大大影响发达国家和发展中国家各个教育层次的个人就业选择范围。技术创新不但减少了常规工作数量,也引起了全球供应链和网络的改变,从而导致许多国家可贸易部门的常规工作以及存在各种技能要求的非常规工作的重新分配。

那么,决策者——特别是发达国家决策者——应该如何面对这一新的就业大挑战(以及反过来对收入和财富分配的挑战)呢?我们可以从当前的研究中得到许多关于经济结构的演化如何影响就业的有趣结论。

发达国家可贸易方面至少已经有20年没有产生任何实质就业增长了,即使创造了就业岗位,也集中在高收入、高学历层次,而中低收入和学历就业在减少。高端服务业就业岗位的增加与制造业供应链高就业要素的衰减相匹配。

在2008年危机爆发前,中低收入增长完全来自经济中的不可贸易部门,该部门大约要占发达国家产出和就业的三分之二。在这里,雇员人均收入和增值几乎保持恒定。就业岗位可能因技术而削减,但不会因全球竞争而削减;而不可持续的债务推动内需增长使当前的贸易赤字延迟了。

结果,发达国家以更快的速度削减常规岗位,同时增加非常规岗位(比如仍无法用机器和联网电脑取代和削减的岗位)。这使得教育和高水平技能的回报大增,发达国家资本所有者和高端雇员收入比重二十多年来持续增加。

于是,发达国家的增长和就业出现了分离。这一趋势的关键推动力——技术在其中扮演者多重角色。常规人力岗位被机器和机器人取代是一个强大而持续的趋势,这一趋势在制造业和物流业中可能会进一步加速,与此同时,电脑网络正在取代信息处理行业的常规白领岗位。

这一趋势的一部分来自纯粹的自动化。另一部分则来自脱媒——银行、在线零售以及一部分政府服务不再需要中介——这只是其中的几个例子。

但技术的影响并未到此为止。实现自动化、脱媒化和降低远程成本的信息技术同样使建设越来越复杂、地缘上越来越多样的全球供应链和网络成为可能。

全球供应链——由于发展中国家收入的增加和比较优势的变迁,全球供应链一直在流动——能够将生产活动配置在人力和其他资源最具竞争力的地方。随着交易、合作和通信成本的下降,链环不仅包括中间产品和装配线,也包括越来越多的服务——研发、设计、维护和支持、客户服务、商业流程及其他。

结果带来了有时被称为全球供应链的“自动化”的东西:越来越细的细分成为了可能,变得更加高效,几乎可以在配置于任何地点。临近性在运输和物流成本方面仍是相当重要的因素。但是,随着发展中世界开始占据最大的新市场、产生全球需求增长的大头,推动自动化的逻辑将变得越来越强。

全球供应链、网络和服务的持续高效分解造成了两个相关后果。首先,全球经济的可贸易部门——在该部门,经济活动和就业岗位的竞争是直接的——占经济的总比重增加了;对于个体国家来说也是如此。其次,全球供应链中无竞争力的部分将不再会因为毗邻高竞争力部分而得到保护。临近性不再是一项必要条件。

这些动态以及相关挑战并不只是发达国家才需要面对。比如,在未来十年,中国将以高增加值制造业和服务业岗位取代大量劳动密集型装配岗位,不但在可贸易部门是如此,在快速增长的不可贸易部门同样如此(甚至有过之而无不及)。自动化和快速成型制造业领域的扩张和成本的下降将影响全球劳动密集型产业,包括位于早期发展阶段国家者。

适应这些趋势的一个关键要素是投资。对发达国家个人、企业、教育机构和政府来说,宽基础、大手笔、高效率的教育和技能投资是至关重要的。填补技能市场的信息空白也将增加这类投资的效率。

人力资本的全面升级将直接和间接地改善收入分配(通过降低相对于需求的低技能工人供给)。这也将(部分地)减轻由收入分配的严重漏洞导致的财富集中状况

在可贸易方面,竞争力不但取决于人力资本,也取决于其他一些因素:基础设施、税收制度、监管效率、政策导致的不确定性、以及能源和卫生成本。

不能保证在这些领域采取正确步骤就能完全克服个人和国家所面临的就业挑战,尽管这样做会有所助益。事实上,也许我们正在步入这样的阶段:需要就业模式、工作周、合同工、最低工资和基本公共服务的供应方面的大适应来维持社会凝聚力、保证公平和代际流动的核心价值。

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  1. CommentedLuke Lea

    I hope Prof. Spence will get a little further out front on the need for new statutory limits on the length of the work day to compensate for the fall in the demand for labor due to automation and new labor-saving technologies.

    The eight-hour day and five-day work week were a successful response to similar technological advances a century ago.

  2. CommentedFrederic Mari

    I've actually written on the same subject - I'll be bold and post the link here: http://theredbanker.blogspot.com/2013/01/robots-labour-and-sciences-fiction.html

    but, basically, I think Mr. Spence is particularly right when he says: "In fact, it is possible that we are entering a period in which major adaptations in employment models, work weeks, contract labor, minimum wages, and the delivery of essential public services will be needed in order to maintain social cohesion"

  3. CommentedAndré Rebentisch

    Prica facie assumption for trade would be that a labor-intense nation becomes more labour-intense, a capital-intense nation more capital-intense.

  4. CommentedJ St. Clair

    there will always be people behind the curve......the key question is if there is going to be permanent losses of jobs...everyone needs to be devising a plan for the non-employed...the non-employed remain breathing and still need a place to live, etc. ALL without every having money

  5. CommentedJose Domingues Costa

    Good article. In my view, the unemployment in the more developed world is bound to keep increasing due to three major reasons:
    - Since WWII there hasn't been any war that decimated the population, crating labour shortages, or the stock of physical capital so as to require major reconstruction;
    - The improvements in automation technologies first felt in agriculture, and then in manufacturing are now going to reduce the total need for labour in the service sector 8which accounts for most of the employment);
    - The cost reduction in transport, communication and information sharing is eliminating a major "frictional cost" that required that many goods and services had to be produced close to where they were provided, therefore more and more types of goods and services can be outsourced to where costs (and in some respects, standards) are lower;

    I think the job problem can only be overcome by the development of a wellbeing economy, one where a big chunk of the work is caring for and entertaining other people. This would mean more nurses for older people, more coaches/referees in sports, more music/dance/culinary teachers, more designers of gardeners, interiors etc etc etc

    To open the way for such economy, there are two major requisites: more free time - down with the 40, 50 and 60 hour workweeks - and more sharing of the wealth produced, so these services are affordable by most of the population.

  6. CommentedAbhishek Singh

    Geographical adjacency may no longer be a requirement, ideological adjacency remains a vital requirement.

  7. CommentedProcyon Mukherjee

    I find it particularly interesting that the same genre of people from the community of thinkers, economists, et al, congratulate the progress of technology that leads companies to improve productivity and make inroads into new products and services that were not possible before, while ignoring the disruptive impact it could have on net job growth; good to see that in Michael Spence’s article we have both sides of the story. The incentives that society provides for economic growth to happen, also includes the same for job growth, but the correlation is not uniformly visible. For Japan, where job growth has stopped virtually now, we see a strong correlation with the equity markets, but in U.S. for example we have seen a relatively weak one. The import of manufacturing jobs in U.S. which is so very acute, while the export of the same from Japan, are two sides of the extreme; perhaps we could have had a more balanced approach through a mediation process that allowed the right incentives through tariffs, may be two decades back.

  8. CommentedLuke Ho-Hyung Lee

    I would suggest you see this article for a solution: http://savingtheworldeconomy.blogspot.com/2011/08/job-creation-in-modern-information-age.html

  9. CommentedDennis Argall

    A significant element of the non-tradable in developed places (for this purpose, places - including some parts of rapidly developing countries - without extended family traditional support systems) is provision of community care for aged or disabled and housing and other services for disadvantaged. This becomes the major growth industry, major source of new employment in some areas of industrial decline and/or ageing population, but curiously statistical systems are resistant to inclusion of such industry in 'industry development' and the sector gets excluded from 'industry' discussion, leaving it fatally in the path of the hooting trains of politics and the supertankers of central bureaucracies.

    Disintermediation is a factor impacting on community services as powerful bureaucracies firstly express preferences for minimising interaction with larger numbers of service provider organisation and secondly impose centralised call-centre culture on crisis as well as other services, to the obliteration of local skills and knowledge in many places. (parenthesical detail: consider the mental health crisis worker attending to the voice of the known local client on phone saying "I've got a knife" compared with the same worker making copious notes on a computer for a far away call centre worker to hear the same "I've got a knife" without knowing the modulations of that voice, the home circumstance of that voice, etc, while trying to read unfamiliar case notes.)

    Centrist bureaucratic pressure is contrary to the wisdom of 'atomisation' of services. It ought to be self-evident that efficiencies will arise with increased skills in local workforces in the community sector and in local management (rather than wage suppression and centralised management), and in the incorporation of 'implicit knowledge' (understanding the local and the client) into the process.

    I think Michael Spence's propositions are very relevant in this sector, would like to see more discussion from economists of the sector in such terms. How to do that without ideological and political bias is a big question. A first step is to see the sector as an industry and part of the economy of considerable importance to quality of life, especially in countries and circumstance of decline or absence of traditional social support systems.


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