Political Consequences of Technological Change

MA Seminar, University of Zurich

What kind of jobs are particularly threatened by smart software, robotization, or artificial intelligence – and who are the winners of economic modernization? How does labor market experience translate into political behavior? Have “robots helped elect Trump", as the New York Times claimed? Does new technology reinforce urban-rural divides? How can policy-makers cushion economic hardship and can they efficiently compensate losers of automation? Should governments regulate Uber? Is the introduction of a universal basic income inevitable in the long-term?

These are some of the key questions we will address in this four-part seminar. We start with a general introduction and a historical perspective on previous industrial revolutions. We then discuss recent key contributions in labor economics to get a sense of the distributive implications of computerization, automation, digitalization, and the increasing prevalence of robots at the workplace. The third part deals with political repercussions on the voter level (preferences and voting behavior). The fourth and final part focuses on policy remedies and the question of what governments can do to mitigate political disruption in the age of automation.

Reto Bürgisser
Reto Bürgisser
Postdoctoral Researcher

My research interests include political economy, comparative politics, and political behavior.