Automation and inequality: the changing world of work in the global South

Issue paper
, 36 pages
PDF (765.07 KB)
Published: August 2017
Product code:11506IIED

Governments and businesses in the developing world can help protect people's jobs and livelihoods from the damaging effects of automation and rapid technological change. This can be done by refocusing their economic and social policies to make them more sustainable and fair.

This paper examines the relationship between rapid technological change, inequality and sustainable development. Existing research shows that in other sectors, agricultural smallholders may lose out under increasingly automated agribusiness as distribution systems are changed. Digital technology will mostly benefit skilled workers at the expense of those less skilled.

But growing inequality is not inevitable. Governments in the developing world need to introduce reforms early on that will shift their economies' focus. By moving the dependence on manufacturing before these jobs are replaced and preparing for the changes that automation and other technological developments will bring, governments can help protect men and women's livelihoods.