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Automation is expanding the industry but harming the mental health of its human workers.
A study from the University of Pittsburgh suggests that American workers who work with industrial robots are less likely to sustain physical injuries but are more likely to have negative effects on their mental health — and even more likely to abuse drugs or alcohol.
These findings come from a study published last week in Labor Economics by Pitt economist Osiah Gintella with a team including Pitt collaborators Rania Gihleb, an assistant professor in the Department of Economics, and Tianyi Wang, who is in the postdoctoral program. Your promotion In the pit after earning.
Gintella, expert and assistant professor of labor economics and economic demography, said: “There is widespread interest in understanding the impact of robots on the labor market. And there is evidence of how robots affected workers’ employment and wages, particularly in manufacturing.” Kenneth P. Department of Economics at the Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences.
“However, we still know little about the effects on physical and mental health. On the one hand, robots can perform some of the most difficult, physically intensive, and risky tasks while minimizing risk to workers. On the other hand, competing robots can put increased pressure on workers who may lose their jobs or be forced to retrain. Of course, labor market institutions can play an important role, especially in a transition phase. “
The study used data from workplaces and organizations on workplace injuries in the United States to determine whether an increase in the standard deviation of robot exposure in a given regional job market results in a decrease in annual work-related injuries. . Overall there was a decrease in injuries to 1.2 cases per 100 workers. Meanwhile, areas of the United States where more people work with robots have seen a significant increase in drug- or alcohol-related deaths, to 37.8 cases per 100,000 people. Additionally, communities that worked with robots saw a slight increase in suicide rates and mental health problems.
In addition to US occupations, the researchers also examined the effects of robotics on workers in Germany. Workers in both countries saw a reduction in their risk of injury from greater exposure to robotics in the workplace, with injuries in Germany decreasing by 5%. Interestingly, the team found different results when it came to mental health.
While increased robotics exposure had more negative mental health effects in the US, German workers did not notice significant mental changes when exposed to robotics. These results raise the question: why does American automation at work have far more negative consequences than German?
“Robot exposure has not caused disruptive job losses in Germany; Germany has a large part of the Occupational Health and Safety Act,” said Gintella. “Our findings show that in both contexts, robots have a positive impact on workers’ physical health by reducing injuries and work-related disabilities. However, our results suggest that in contexts where workers were less protected, competition with robots was associated with an increase in mental health problems.”
Giuntella previously examined the impact of robotics on the workforce with a 2021 study published in the Journal of Human Resources. This previous research focused on the effects of robotics on men’s economic size, marital status, and marital fertility.
Following the 2021 release, Giuntella said, “The impact of robotics and automation on labor market outcomes has been debated extensively, but we still know very little about how these structural economic shifts will transform key life-course decisions.”
The results of this 2022 study show that the development of robotics could have even more devastating consequences for workers’ lives than physical injuries. These results suggest that labor market institutions are an important mediator for the negative impact of robots on mental health.
Robots good for gender equality, not so good for marital stability/fertility: study
Rania Gihleb et al., Industrial Robots, Occupational Safety and Health, Labor Economics (2022). DOI: 10.1016/j.labeco.2022.102205 Provided by the University of Pittsburgh
Citation: Robots Induce U.S. Colleagues With Substance Abuse, Mental Health Issues, Study (2022, June 29) Retrieved June 29, 2022
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