Workplace robots close the gender pay gap because they mostly take men's jobs

Workplace robots have decreased the gender pay gaps in some industries because they are taking away jobs mostly done by men, a study has discovered.

This has closed the gap in pay and also made women less likely to want to marry and have children, researchers found.

The study suggests this is because both men and women are now doing the same jobs and in turn being paid the same in the wake of campaigns of gender equity in the workforce.

In 741 US regions exposed to industrial robots, they discovered a ‘significant’ statistical decline in gender inequity in income.

Every 1.9 additional robots per 1,000 workers decreased the gender income gap by 4.2 per cent and the workforce participation gender gap by 2.1 per cent.

However, this is against the average of women earning 84 per cent of what men earn in full and part-time jobs in the US.

The researchers also compared where robots had entered the labour market and found changes in family and fertility behaviours.

While there was no decrease in children being born, babies in wedlock decreased by 12 per cent and there was a 15 per cent increase in nonmarital births.

An increase in robot exposure were associated with a one per cent reduction in marriage rate, a nine per cent increase in divorces and a 10 per cent increase in the likelihood of couples living together without getting married.

Dr Osea Giuntella, assistant professor in economics at the University of Pittsburgh, said: ‘There has been an intense debate on the effects of robotics and automation on labour market outcomes, but we still know little about how these structural economic changes are reshaping key life-course choices.

‘Our study shows the exposure to robots’ competition affected the relative labour market opportunities of men and women.

‘Male income fell at a substantially higher rate than female income, decreasing the gender income gap.

‘Moreover, robot exposure has increased female labour force participation significantly while leaving the labour force participation of men unchanged.

‘We argue that these labour market effects affected men’s marriageability and women’s willingness to long-term commitments with a decline in marriages and marital fertility.’

He added: ‘Our findings add to a long-standing discussion on the effects of technology – household appliances, medical progress, etc. – on family and fertility decisions by focusing on a more recent wave of technological changes, particularly the development of robotics and automation.

‘Those technological changes, instead of directly affecting fertility and family choices, might disrupt them by profoundly changing employment opportunities for both women and men.’

The study was published in the Journal of Human Resources.

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