ILO Research paper No. 17

Digitalization and structural labour market problems: The case of Germany

This paper looks at one of the main drivers of technological change, digitalization and how it will impact jobs. Taking the case of Germany the paper argues that smart automation might not lead to overall job losses but considerable shifts in the structure of employment with regard to industries, occupations, skills and tasks.

In its recent World Employment and Social Outlook, the ILO published estimates of the number of jobs related to global supply chains (GSCs) for 40 countries in 1995–2013. This paper provides a detailed description of the methodology that was used for the estimation and documents the links between GSC-related jobs and demand. The paper shows evidence on the number of jobs supported by demand in different export destinations and analyzes the number of GSC-related jobs in different country groups. In particular, we find evidence for the changing role of China, from a country in which GSC-related jobs are located to a country whose import demand creates these jobs elsewhere. We also show that production linkages between emerging economies create an increasing number of jobs. When focusing on jobs related to manufacturing GSCs, trends in GSC-related jobs reveal the increasing importance of the services sector. Finally, we conduct a sectoral regression analysis and provide evidence that increased GSC participation of a sector as a supplier can be associated with a drop in the wage share. We show that this result holds regardless of whether advanced or emerging economies are the final export destination, where demand originates.