Stanford University


Simulating Endogenous Global Automation

Seth Benzell
Victor Yifan Fe
Laurence Kotlikoff
Guillermo LaGarda

September 2021

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This paper develops a 17-region, 3-skill group, overlapping generations, computable general equilibrium model to evaluate the global consequences of automation. Automation, modeled as capital- and high-skill biased technological change, is endogenous with regions adopting new technologies when profitable. Our approach captures and quantifies key macro implications of a range of foundational models of automation. In our baseline scenario, automation has a moderate effect on regional outputs and a small effect on world interest rates. However, it has a major impact on inequality, both wage inequality within regions and per capita GDP inequality across regions. We examine two policy responses to technological change — mandating use of the advanced technology and providing universal basic income to share gains from automation. The former policy can raise a region’s output, but at a welfare cost. The latter policy can transform automation into a win-win for all generations in a region.

Stanford University