Policy Responses to Technological Change in the Workplace


The rise of new technologies has been a defining feature of advanced capitalist countries over the last decades, reigniting concerns about the future of work, rising inequality, and technological unemployment. While there is little doubt that rapid technological progress has far-reaching economic, social, and political consequences, little is known about viable and effective policies governments can implement to assist workers and communities in adjusting to a fast-changing economic landscape and rising labor market insecurity. This paper focuses on the ability of public policies to moderate technology-induced labor market vulnerability and its well-documented political downstream consequences. First, I suggest to theoretically classify policy responses according to their intended goal into a three-fold typology, distinguishing between investment, steering, and compensation policies. After that, I provide a detailed discussion on the current state of the empirical literature how such policy responses affect workers coping with technological change. In the last section, I discuss to what extent these findings can guide the adoption of policies to help workers adapt to technological change and point out potential avenues for future research.

JRC Working Paper Series on Social Classes in the Digital Age 2023/04, 1-21
Reto Bürgisser
Reto Bürgisser
Postdoctoral Researcher

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