lump of labour

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words: 49,604

The Weightless World: Strategies for Managing the Digital Economy by Diane Coyle

"Robert Solow", barriers to entry, Berlin Wall, Big bang: deregulation of the City of London, blue-collar work, Bretton Woods, business cycle, clean water, computer age, Corn Laws, creative destruction, cross-subsidies, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, dematerialisation, Diane Coyle, Edward Glaeser, everywhere but in the productivity statistics, financial deregulation, full employment, George Santayana, global village, hiring and firing, Howard Rheingold, income inequality, informal economy, invention of the sewing machine, invisible hand, Jane Jacobs, Joseph Schumpeter, Kickstarter, knowledge economy, labour market flexibility, laissez-faire capitalism, lump of labour, Marshall McLuhan, mass immigration, McJob, microcredit, moral panic, Network effects, new economy, Nick Leeson, night-watchman state, North Sea oil, offshore financial centre, pension reform, pensions crisis, Ronald Reagan, Silicon Valley, spinning jenny, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, the market place, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thorstein Veblen, Tobin tax, two tier labour market, very high income, War on Poverty, winner-take-all economy, working-age population

Nor does it amount to either creating public sector ‘make-work’ schemes or displacing other people from jobs. As the London School of Economics expert Richard Layard has argued,21 if you increase the supply of labour by providing a jobs guarantee, the real wage level will fall, demand for labour will rise. In a market economy, the jobs will be created, at a lower wage, many of them in the private sector. For there is no fixed number of jobs in the economy — the so-called ‘lump of labour fallacy’. If the wage rate is altered by a change in labour supply, the demand for labour will change too. The unemployed can take the new low-paid jobs if they want them, and not if they do not. But the government has offered what it could. What governments cannot do is change the world back to the way it was before. The next three chapters look at three areas in which weightlessness has completely changed the scope for public action and intervention.

It might be logical but it is clear why politicians would think it not worthwhile. In so far as there is a rationale behind local hostility to immigrants, it tends to take the form of the fear that ‘they’ are stealing ‘our’ jobs. Thus getting a US Green Card requires proof that the would-be immigrant is not filling a job for which a US citizen is available. The fear is off-target, based on the ‘lump of labour’ fallacy discussed in Chapter 2.A new supply of cheap labour expands the number of jobs available, but cuts the wage paid. Immigrants do not steal jobs but they do compete down wages. A native San Franciscan might be able to afford an ‘illegal’ Mexican nanny, when once she would have gone without or opted for day nurseries because nannies’ wages were too high before the latest influx of Hispanic immigration into California.

The era of The Job, an artefact of factory capitalism, is drawing to an end. Giddens seems to envisage some form of job-sharing as a solution. This has been a popular proposal in France, where the government introduced a subsidy for companies that increase their workforce by 10 per cent by reducing working hours for existing employees. But this falls into the trap of assuming there is a fixed pot of work available to be shared more or less fairly — the ‘lump of labour’ fallacy, as economists call it. It does not escape from the tyranny of thinking about people’s options in terms of jobs and not-jobs. For an alternative vision, let’s turn to science fiction. Neal Stephenson’s view about how people will make their way in the world in Snow Crash is at The Weightless World 232 least as plausible as the jobbist outlook. It starts with a very a distinctive and American view of the role of government.


pages: 419 words: 109,241

A World Without Work: Technology, Automation, and How We Should Respond by Daniel Susskind

3D printing, agricultural Revolution, AI winter, Airbnb, Albert Einstein, algorithmic trading, artificial general intelligence, autonomous vehicles, basic income, Bertrand Russell: In Praise of Idleness, blue-collar work, British Empire, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, cloud computing, computer age, computer vision, computerized trading, creative destruction, David Graeber, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, demographic transition, deskilling, disruptive innovation, Donald Trump, Douglas Hofstadter, drone strike, Edward Glaeser, Elon Musk, en.wikipedia.org, Erik Brynjolfsson, financial innovation, future of work, gig economy, Gini coefficient, Google Glasses, Gödel, Escher, Bach, income inequality, income per capita, industrial robot, interchangeable parts, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, Jacques de Vaucanson, James Hargreaves, job automation, John Markoff, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, John Maynard Keynes: technological unemployment, John von Neumann, Joi Ito, Joseph Schumpeter, Kenneth Arrow, Khan Academy, Kickstarter, low skilled workers, lump of labour, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, means of production, Metcalfe’s law, natural language processing, Network effects, Occupy movement, offshore financial centre, Paul Samuelson, Peter Thiel, pink-collar, precariat, purchasing power parity, Ray Kurzweil, ride hailing / ride sharing, road to serfdom, Robert Gordon, Sam Altman, Second Machine Age, self-driving car, shareholder value, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, Snapchat, social intelligence, software is eating the world, sovereign wealth fund, spinning jenny, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, strong AI, telemarketer, The Future of Employment, The Rise and Fall of American Growth, the scientific method, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thorstein Veblen, Travis Kalanick, Turing test, Tyler Cowen: Great Stagnation, universal basic income, upwardly mobile, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, We are the 99%, wealth creators, working poor, working-age population, Y Combinator

Schloss came to see this as a typical attitude among workmen of the time. It was, he wrote, a belief “firmly entertained by a large section of our working-classes, that for a man … to do his level best—is inconsistent … with loyalty to the cause of labour.” He called this the “theory of the Lump of Labour”: it held “that there is a certain fixed amount of work to be done, and that it is best, in the interests of the workmen, that each man shall take care not to do too much work, in order that thus the Lump of Labour may be spread out thin over the whole body of workpeople.”30 Schloss called this way of thinking “a noteworthy fallacy.” The error with it, he pointed out, is that the “lump of work” is in fact not fixed. As the worker became more productive, and the price of the washers made by him fell, demand for them would increase.

,” New York Times Magazine, 1 April 2014; for politicians, see Georgia Graham, “Robots Will Take Over Middle-Class Professions, Says Minister,” Telegraph, 8 July 2014. 29.  David Schloss, Methods of Industrial Remuneration (London: Williams and Norgate, 1898). The text has been archived online at https://ia902703.us.archive.org/30/items/methodsofindustr00schl/methodsofindustr00schl.pdf. The Economist website has an entry on the “lump of labour fallacy” and David Schloss at http://www.economist.com/economics-a-to-z/l. Tom Walker, an economist, has written at length about the idea and its origins, too; see, for instance, “Why Economists Dislike a Lump of Labor,” Review of Social Economy 65, no. 3 (2007): 279–91. 30.  Schloss, Methods of Industrial Remuneration, p. 81. 31.  Leontief, “National Perspective,” p. 4. 32.  Daron Acemoglu and Pascual Restrepo, “Robots and Jobs: Evidence from US Labor Markets,” NBER Working Paper No. 23285 (2017). 33.  


pages: 742 words: 137,937

The Future of the Professions: How Technology Will Transform the Work of Human Experts by Richard Susskind, Daniel Susskind

23andMe, 3D printing, additive manufacturing, AI winter, Albert Einstein, Amazon Mechanical Turk, Amazon Web Services, Andrew Keen, Atul Gawande, Automated Insights, autonomous vehicles, Big bang: deregulation of the City of London, big data - Walmart - Pop Tarts, Bill Joy: nanobots, business process, business process outsourcing, Cass Sunstein, Checklist Manifesto, Clapham omnibus, Clayton Christensen, clean water, cloud computing, commoditize, computer age, Computer Numeric Control, computer vision, conceptual framework, corporate governance, creative destruction, crowdsourcing, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, death of newspapers, disintermediation, Douglas Hofstadter, en.wikipedia.org, Erik Brynjolfsson, Filter Bubble, full employment, future of work, Google Glasses, Google X / Alphabet X, Hacker Ethic, industrial robot, informal economy, information retrieval, interchangeable parts, Internet of things, Isaac Newton, James Hargreaves, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, John Maynard Keynes: technological unemployment, Joseph Schumpeter, Khan Academy, knowledge economy, lifelogging, lump of labour, Marshall McLuhan, Metcalfe’s law, Narrative Science, natural language processing, Network effects, optical character recognition, Paul Samuelson, personalized medicine, pre–internet, Ray Kurzweil, Richard Feynman, Second Machine Age, self-driving car, semantic web, Shoshana Zuboff, Skype, social web, speech recognition, spinning jenny, strong AI, supply-chain management, telepresence, The Future of Employment, the market place, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, The Wisdom of Crowds, transaction costs, Turing test, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, WikiLeaks, young professional

But they are wrong to ignore the fact that new tasks might have to be undertaken, and these new tasks might be of a type in which people still have the advantage; and, if this is the case, then there is new work for people to do. Now consider the optimists. They argue that the pessimists’ account relies on the ‘lump of labour fallacy’—a term given by economists to the belief that there is some fixed quantity of reasonably-paid work, a given ‘lump’ of labour that is to be divided up and parcelled out either to people or to machines. The optimists rightly note that this is wrong, and make an argument based on Question 1. If a new technology is more productive, it will increase output, there will be more work that has to be done, and so more tasks for people to do. There is no fixed ‘lump’ of labour, and instead the quantity of reasonably-paid work will grow over time. However, the optimists only look at Question 1—whether the improvement in productivity will increase output, and create more tasks.


pages: 323 words: 90,868

The Wealth of Humans: Work, Power, and Status in the Twenty-First Century by Ryan Avent

"Robert Solow", 3D printing, Airbnb, American energy revolution, assortative mating, autonomous vehicles, Bakken shale, barriers to entry, basic income, Bernie Sanders, BRICs, business cycle, call centre, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, Clayton Christensen, cloud computing, collective bargaining, computer age, creative destruction, dark matter, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, deindustrialization, dematerialisation, Deng Xiaoping, deskilling, disruptive innovation, Dissolution of the Soviet Union, Donald Trump, Downton Abbey, Edward Glaeser, Erik Brynjolfsson, eurozone crisis, everywhere but in the productivity statistics, falling living standards, first square of the chessboard, first square of the chessboard / second half of the chessboard, Ford paid five dollars a day, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, future of work, gig economy, global supply chain, global value chain, hydraulic fracturing, income inequality, indoor plumbing, industrial robot, intangible asset, interchangeable parts, Internet of things, inventory management, invisible hand, James Watt: steam engine, Jeff Bezos, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, Joseph-Marie Jacquard, knowledge economy, low skilled workers, lump of labour, Lyft, manufacturing employment, Marc Andreessen, mass immigration, means of production, new economy, performance metric, pets.com, post-work, price mechanism, quantitative easing, Ray Kurzweil, rent-seeking, reshoring, rising living standards, Robert Gordon, Ronald Coase, savings glut, Second Machine Age, secular stagnation, self-driving car, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, single-payer health, software is eating the world, supply-chain management, supply-chain management software, TaskRabbit, The Future of Employment, The Nature of the Firm, The Rise and Fall of American Growth, The Spirit Level, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, trade liberalization, transaction costs, Tyler Cowen: Great Stagnation, Uber and Lyft, Uber for X, uber lyft, very high income, working-age population

And the institution of work – apart from family, our most important piece of social infrastructure – can no longer be counted on to fulfil its many crucial roles – from the ordering of our days, to the allocation of purchasing power, to the strengthening of the social ties that are nurtured when individuals feel as though they are contributing positively to the community. THE DIFFICULTY IN MANAGING A LABOUR GLUT To say that humanity has too many workers is to defy a basic tenet of economics. Labour is not supposed to work like that. When someone suggests that there are too many people around to do the work society needs done, he is said to be under the influence of the ‘lump of labour’ fallacy: the view that there is only so much work to go around – the lump. This view leads to policies such as those designed to lower the retirement age in order to create more work for the young. If we believe this basic theory, then we should certainly worry about the rise of machines. Economists, however, are generally of the opinion that the economy works quite differently. They sometimes point to ‘Say’s Law’, the work of eighteenth-century French economist Jean-Baptiste Say,12 which is often summarized in the phrase ‘supply creates its own demand’.

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service) Slate (web publication) smartphone culture Smith, Adam social capital and American Constitution baseball metaphor and cities ‘deepening’ definition/nature of and dematerialization and developing economies and erosion of institutions of firms and companies and good government and housing wealth and immigration and income distribution during industrial revolution and liberalization and nation-states productive application of and rich-poor nation gap and Adam Smith and start-ups social class conflict middle classes and NIMBYism social conditioning of labour force working classes social democratic model social reform social wealth and social membership software ‘enterprise software’ products supply-chain management Solow, Robert Somalia South Korea Soviet Union, dissolution of (1991) specialization Star Trek state, role of steam power Subramanian, Arvind suburbanization Sweden Syriza party Taiwan TaskRabbit taxation telegraphy Tesla, Nikola Thatcher, Margaret ‘tiger’ economies of 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degrees downward mobility of graduates MOOCs (‘massive open online courses’) and productivity see also education urbanization utopias, post-work Victoria, Queen video-gamers Virginia, US state Volvo Vox wages basic income policy Baumol’s Cost Disease cheap labour and employment growth and dot.com boom and financial crisis (2008) and flexibility and Henry Ford government subsidies and housing costs and immigration and industrial revolution low-pay as check on automation minimum wage and productivity the ‘reservation wage’ as rising in China rising in emerging economies and scarcity in service sector and skill-upgrading approach stagnation of and supply of graduates Wandsworth Washington D.C.


pages: 414 words: 119,116

The Health Gap: The Challenge of an Unequal World by Michael Marmot

active measures, active transport: walking or cycling, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, Atul Gawande, Bonfire of the Vanities, Broken windows theory, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, Carmen Reinhart, Celtic Tiger, centre right, clean water, congestion charging, correlation does not imply causation, Doha Development Round, epigenetics, financial independence, future of work, Gini coefficient, Growth in a Time of Debt, illegal immigration, income inequality, Indoor air pollution, Kenneth Rogoff, Kibera, labour market flexibility, longitudinal study, lump of labour, Mahatma Gandhi, meta analysis, meta-analysis, microcredit, New Urbanism, obamacare, paradox of thrift, race to the bottom, Rana Plaza, RAND corporation, road to serfdom, Simon Kuznets, Socratic dialogue, structural adjustment programs, the built environment, The Spirit Level, trickle-down economics, twin studies, urban planning, Washington Consensus, Winter of Discontent, working poor

A friend, a professor at a prestigious US university, tells me that half the full professors in his school are over seventy and some are in their eighties. It seems obvious that the old should step aside to make way for the young. There are only so many jobs to go around, and if the old won’t move the young can’t have them. Obvious, but wrong. The idea that older people are blocking jobs for younger people – the ‘lump of labour’ hypothesis – has been debunked as a myth.10 The flaw is to assume that there is a fixed number of jobs. The evidence shows that, in general, the higher the participation of older people in the labour market the higher the employment rate of younger people – more jobs for the old and more jobs for the young. Yes, there may indeed be circumstances when the old should make way for the young – new brooms, fresh ideas, and so on – but not because if old people remain working young people cannot.

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public transport, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here Ramazzini, Bernardino, here RAND Corporation, here, here, here rational choice theory, here, here, here rats, and brain development, here Rawls, John, here, here Reid, Donald, here Reinhart, Carmen, here, here reproduction, control over, here retirement, here reverse causation, here Reykjavik Zoo, here Rio de Janeiro, here, here Rogoff, Kenneth, here, here Rolling Stones, here Romania, here Romney, Mitt, here Rose, Geoffrey, here Roth, Philip, here Royal College of Physicians, here Royal Swedish Academy of Science, here Russia, here, here, here and alcohol use, here life expectancy, here, here, here, here Sachs, Jeffrey, here, here St Andrews, here San Diego, here Sandel, Michael, here, here Sapolsky, Robert, here Scottish Health Survey, here Seattle, here Self Employed Women’s Association (SEWA), here, here, here, here Sen, Amartya, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here and Jean Drèze, here, here, here, here serotonin, here sexuality, here, here see also reproduction, control over sexually transmitted infections, here, here Shafir, Eldar, here Shakespeare, William, here, here, here, here Shanghai, here Shaw, George Bernard, here, here Shepherd, Jonathan, here shootings, here Siegrist, Johannes, here Sierra Leone, here, here, here Singapore, here, here Slovakia, here Slovenia, here, here smallpox vaccinations, here Smith, Adam, here Smith, Jim, here smoking, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here declining rates of, here, here and education, here and public policy, here social gradient in, here, here and tobacco companies, here and unemployment, here Snowdon, Christopher, here social cohesion, here, here, here, here, here, here, here social mobility, here, here social protection, here ‘social rights’, here Social Science and Medicine, here Soundarya Cleaning Cooperative, here South Korea, here, here, here, here Spain, here, here, here Spectator, here sports sponsorship, here Sri Lanka, here Stafford, Mai, here Steptoe, Andrew, here Stiglitz, Joseph, here, here, here, here, here stroke, here, here, here structural adjustments, here, here Stuckler, David, here suicide, here, here, here, here, here and aboriginal populations, here, here and Indian cotton farmers, here and unemployment, here, here suicide, attempted, here Sulabh International, here Sun, here Sure Start programme, here Surinam, here Sutton, Willie, here Swansea, here Sweden, here, here, here, here, here, here, here life expectancy and education, here, here male adult mortality, here, here Swedish Commission on Equity in Health, here Syme, Leonard, here, here, here Taiwan, here, here Tanzania, here taxation, here Thailand, here Thatcher, Margaret, here Theorell, Tores, here tobacco companies, here Topel Robert, here Tottenham riots, here Tower Hamlets, here, here Townsend, Peter, here trade unions, here, here, here, here traffic calming measures, here Tressell, Robert, here ‘Triangle that Moves the Mountain’, here, here trickle-down economics, here, here Truman, Harry S., here tuberculosis, here, here, here, here Tunisia, here Turandot, here, here Turkey, here, here Uganda, here, here unemployment, here, here, here, here, here, here, here and mental health, here and suicide, here, here youth unemployment, here, here, here, here UNICEF, here, here United Kingdom alcohol consumption, here capital:income ratio, here and child well-being, here cost of childcare, here and economic recovery, here, here education system, here, here disability-free life expectancy, here founding of welfare state, here health-care system, here income inequalities, here, here literacy levels, here male adult mortality, here PISA score, here politics and economics, here and poverty in work, here, here poverty levels, here, here prison population, here social attitudes, here and social interventions, here social mobility, here ‘strivers and scroungers’ rhetoric, here, here and taxation, here unemployment, here use of tables for meals, here United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), here, here, here, here United States of America air pollution, here, here alcohol consumption, here capital:income ratio, here child poverty, here and child well-being, here cotton subsidies, here and economic recovery, here education system, here, here, here female life expectancy, here and gang violence, here health-care system, here, here income inequalities, here, here, here, here international comparisons, here, here, here lack of paid maternity leave, here life expectancy and education, here male adult mortality, here, here, here maternal mortality, here, here obesity levels, here, here, here, here PISA score, here politics and economics, here and poverty in work, here poverty levels, here prison population, here race and disadvantage, here, here, here, here, here social disadvantage and health, here social mobility, here suicide rate, here and taxation, here US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, here US Department of Justice, here US Federal Reserve Bank, here US National Academy of Science (NAS), here, here, here, here University of Sydney, here urban planning, here Uruguay, here, here, here, here utilitarianism, here, here, here Vågerö, Denny, here valuation of life, here Victoria Longitudinal Study, here Vietnam, here, here violence, here domestic (intimate partner), here, here, here Virchow, Rudolf, here vulture funds, here, here Wales, youth unemployment in, here walking speed, here Washington Consensus, here, here, here welfare spending, here West Arnhem College, here Westminster, life expectancy in, here Whitehall Studies, here, here, here, here, here, here, here wife-beating, here Wilde, Oscar, here, here Wilkinson, Richard, here willingness-to-pay methodology, here, here Wolfe, Tom, here, here women and alcohol use, here and cash-transfer schemes, here A Note on the Author Born in England and educated in Australia, Sir Michael Marmot is Professor of Epidemiology and Public Health at UCL.


pages: 524 words: 155,947

More: The 10,000-Year Rise of the World Economy by Philip Coggan

"Robert Solow", accounting loophole / creative accounting, Ada Lovelace, agricultural Revolution, Airbnb, airline deregulation, Andrei Shleifer, anti-communist, assortative mating, autonomous vehicles, bank run, banking crisis, banks create money, basic income, Berlin Wall, Bob Noyce, Branko Milanovic, Bretton Woods, British Empire, business cycle, call centre, capital controls, carbon footprint, Carmen Reinhart, Celtic Tiger, central bank independence, Charles Lindbergh, clean water, collective bargaining, Columbian Exchange, Columbine, Corn Laws, credit crunch, Credit Default Swap, crony capitalism, currency peg, debt deflation, Deng Xiaoping, discovery of the americas, Donald Trump, Erik Brynjolfsson, European colonialism, eurozone crisis, falling living standards, financial innovation, financial intermediation, floating exchange rates, Fractional reserve banking, Frederick Winslow Taylor, full employment, germ theory of disease, German hyperinflation, gig economy, Gini coefficient, global supply chain, global value chain, Gordon Gekko, greed is good, Haber-Bosch Process, Hans Rosling, Hernando de Soto, hydraulic fracturing, Ignaz Semmelweis: hand washing, income inequality, income per capita, indoor plumbing, industrial robot, inflation targeting, Isaac Newton, James Watt: steam engine, job automation, John Snow's cholera map, joint-stock company, joint-stock limited liability company, Kenneth Arrow, Kula ring, labour market flexibility, land reform, land tenure, Lao Tzu, large denomination, liquidity trap, Long Term Capital Management, Louis Blériot, low cost airline, low skilled workers, lump of labour, M-Pesa, Malcom McLean invented shipping containers, manufacturing employment, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, Martin Wolf, McJob, means of production, Mikhail Gorbachev, mittelstand, moral hazard, Murano, Venice glass, Myron Scholes, Nelson Mandela, Network effects, Northern Rock, oil shale / tar sands, oil shock, Paul Samuelson, popular capitalism, popular electronics, price stability, principal–agent problem, profit maximization, purchasing power parity, quantitative easing, railway mania, Ralph Nader, regulatory arbitrage, road to serfdom, Robert Gordon, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Ronald Coase, Ronald Reagan, savings glut, Scramble for Africa, Second Machine Age, secular stagnation, Silicon Valley, Simon Kuznets, South China Sea, South Sea Bubble, special drawing rights, spice trade, spinning jenny, Steven Pinker, TaskRabbit, Thales and the olive presses, Thales of Miletus, The Great Moderation, The inhabitant of London could order by telephone, sipping his morning tea in bed, the various products of the whole earth, The Rise and Fall of American Growth, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, The Wisdom of Crowds, Thomas Malthus, Thorstein Veblen, trade route, transaction costs, transatlantic slave trade, transcontinental railway, Triangle Shirtwaist Factory, universal basic income, Unsafe at Any Speed, Upton Sinclair, V2 rocket, Veblen good, War on Poverty, Washington Consensus, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, women in the workforce, Yom Kippur War, zero-sum game

After all, an increase in supply will lead, other things being equal, to a fall in price. But other things aren’t equal. If more workers mean lower wages, then how come the rise in the global population from 1 billion to 7 billion hasn’t led to mass poverty? The obvious answer is that each worker is also a source of demand. Each immigrant spends the money they earn on local goods and services. Economists talk about the “lump of labour” fallacy; a belief that there is only a certain amount of work to do. The fallacy has been used to argue that women should stay out of the workforce to leave more jobs for men, and that older workers should retire early to create jobs for the young. Immigration may have an impact on the real wages of unskilled labour. A study by Claudia Goldin, an economics professor at Harvard, on the effect of US immigration in the late 19th and early 20th centuries found that a one percentage point increase in the foreign-born share of the population may have reduced wages by 1–1.5%.59 The influx may also have persuaded workers in the eastern US to move to the Midwest and the West Coast.

Populist politicians made gains across Europe, from Marine Le Pen in France to Matteo Salvini in Italy and Viktor Orbán in Hungary. There have been plenty of attempts to explain the sluggish growth of real wages. On the political right, many have blamed immigration; they argue that an influx of unskilled workers has driven down wages by increasing the supply of labour. However, immigrants are not just workers, they are also consumers; as well as increasing the supply of labour, they increase the demand for goods. This “lump of labour” fallacy is hard to kill (see Chapter 9). As noted earlier in the book, the real culprit could be found elsewhere. A study by the IMF found that the reason for around half the decline in labour’s share of GDP was the impact of technology, as employers were able to automate low-skilled jobs. Another quarter of the shift was down to globalisation; companies in the developed world were shifting jobs to low-wage countries in the rest of the world.39 The sluggish overall level of growth that followed the financial crisis led some economists to rethink their previous models.


pages: 317 words: 71,776

Inequality and the 1% by Danny Dorling

Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, banking crisis, battle of ideas, Bernie Madoff, Big bang: deregulation of the City of London, Boris Johnson, Branko Milanovic, buy and hold, call centre, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, centre right, collective bargaining, conceptual framework, corporate governance, credit crunch, David Attenborough, David Graeber, delayed gratification, Dominic Cummings, double helix, Downton Abbey, en.wikipedia.org, Etonian, family office, financial deregulation, full employment, Gini coefficient, high net worth, housing crisis, income inequality, land value tax, longitudinal study, low skilled workers, lump of labour, mega-rich, Monkeys Reject Unequal Pay, Mont Pelerin Society, mortgage debt, negative equity, Neil Kinnock, Occupy movement, offshore financial centre, plutocrats, Plutocrats, precariat, quantitative easing, race to the bottom, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, TaskRabbit, The Spirit Level, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, trickle-down economics, unpaid internship, very high income, We are the 99%, wealth creators, working poor

Writing about the growth in food banks and the middle class’s rising fear of poverty, UK commentator Richard Seymour explains that, as we have shifted from welfare towards the punishment of people for being poor, ‘those fortunate enough to stay just the right side of this divide will have added motivation to be compliant; docile toward social superiors, viciously competitive towards everyone else’.75 But it doesn’t have to be this way.76 We could drastically reduce the retirement age to sixty, or at least move it back to sixty-five. The government says we cannot afford this, but that is clearly incorrect. The state pension is roughly the same as Jobseekers’ Allowance. Every older worker who wishes to retire but cannot without a state pension could create a job for someone unemployed. There may not be a fixed amount of work available, a ‘lump of labour’, but there is a finite pay chest. Compared to young people, older retired people are much more likely to take up voluntary work in the community – and thus increase social capital. There is also less of a stigma attached to being retired than to being unemployed, resulting in less depression and other mental illness. Making the elderly work until they die is not good for their health. Keeping the young out of decent work is not good for their health.


pages: 477 words: 75,408

The Economic Singularity: Artificial Intelligence and the Death of Capitalism by Calum Chace

3D printing, additive manufacturing, agricultural Revolution, AI winter, Airbnb, artificial general intelligence, augmented reality, autonomous vehicles, banking crisis, basic income, Baxter: Rethink Robotics, Berlin Wall, Bernie Sanders, bitcoin, blockchain, call centre, Chris Urmson, congestion charging, credit crunch, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, Douglas Engelbart, Elon Musk, en.wikipedia.org, Erik Brynjolfsson, Flynn Effect, full employment, future of work, gender pay gap, gig economy, Google Glasses, Google X / Alphabet X, ImageNet competition, income inequality, industrial robot, Internet of things, invention of the telephone, invisible hand, James Watt: steam engine, Jaron Lanier, Jeff Bezos, job automation, John Markoff, John Maynard Keynes: technological unemployment, John von Neumann, Kevin Kelly, knowledge worker, lifelogging, lump of labour, Lyft, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, Martin Wolf, McJob, means of production, Milgram experiment, Narrative Science, natural language processing, new economy, Occupy movement, Oculus Rift, PageRank, pattern recognition, post scarcity, post-industrial society, post-work, precariat, prediction markets, QWERTY keyboard, railway mania, RAND corporation, Ray Kurzweil, RFID, Rodney Brooks, Sam Altman, Satoshi Nakamoto, Second Machine Age, self-driving car, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, Skype, software is eating the world, speech recognition, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, TaskRabbit, technological singularity, The Future of Employment, Thomas Malthus, transaction costs, Tyler Cowen: Great Stagnation, Uber for X, uber lyft, universal basic income, Vernor Vinge, working-age population, Y Combinator, young professional

This money can then be spent to buy more of the item, or other items, thereby raising demand generally, and creating jobs. This assumes, however, that the money freed up is not spent on expensive assets that generate no employment, or invested in companies that employ very few people. Economists also point out that the Luddite fallacy also depends on a misapprehension about economics called the “Lump of Labour Fallacy”, which is the idea that there is a certain, fixed amount of work available, and if machines do some of it then there is inevitably less for humans to do. In fact, economies are more organic and more flexible: they respond to shifts, and innovate to grow. New jobs are created as old ones disappear and the former outnumber the latter. The Luddite fallacy and economic experience The second reason to reject the Luddite fallacy hitherto is rather better: history has proved it to be wrong.


pages: 307 words: 82,680

A Pelican Introduction: Basic Income by Guy Standing

bank run, basic income, Bernie Sanders, Bertrand Russell: In Praise of Idleness, Black Swan, Boris Johnson, British Empire, centre right, collective bargaining, cryptocurrency, David Graeber, declining real wages, deindustrialization, Donald Trump, Elon Musk, Fellow of the Royal Society, financial intermediation, full employment, future of work, gig economy, Gunnar Myrdal, housing crisis, hydraulic fracturing, income inequality, intangible asset, job automation, job satisfaction, Joi Ito, labour market flexibility, land value tax, libertarian paternalism, low skilled workers, lump of labour, Mark Zuckerberg, Martin Wolf, mass immigration, mass incarceration, moral hazard, Nelson Mandela, offshore financial centre, open economy, Panopticon Jeremy Bentham, Paul Samuelson, plutocrats, Plutocrats, precariat, quantitative easing, randomized controlled trial, rent control, rent-seeking, Sam Altman, self-driving car, shareholder value, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, sovereign wealth fund, Stephen Hawking, The Future of Employment, universal basic income, Wolfgang Streeck, women in the workforce, working poor, Y Combinator, Zipcar

Star bond investor Bill Gross has also come out in support of a basic income as a response to what he perceives as the coming robot-driven ‘end of work’.13 In July 2016, there was even a Facebook Live roundtable held in the White House on automation and basic income, though in a report issued the following December the US President’s Council of Economic Advisers rejected the idea, seemingly based on its chairman’s critical remarks six months earlier that were dissected in Chapter 4.14 A significant convert to the technological unemployment perspective is Andy Stern, former head of the US Service Employees International Union (SEIU) and the first leading trade unionist to come out in favour of a basic income.15 In a 2016 book widely publicized in the US, Stern claimed that 58 per cent of all jobs would be automated eventually, driven by the ethos of shareholder value. He told the American media group Bloomberg, ‘It’s not like the fall of the auto and steel industries. That hit just a sector of the country. This will be widespread. People will realize that we don’t have a storm anymore; we have a tsunami.’16 Nevertheless, there are reasons to be sceptical about the prospect of a jobless or even workless future. It is the latest version of the ‘lump of labour fallacy’, the idea that there is only a certain amount of labour and work to be done, so that if more of it can be automated or done by intelligent robots, human workers will be rendered redundant. In any case, very few jobs can be automated in their entirety. The suggestion in a much-cited study17 that nearly half of all US jobs are vulnerable to automation has been challenged by, among others, the OECD, which puts the figure of jobs ‘at risk’ at 9 per cent for industrialized countries.18 That said, the nature of jobs will undoubtedly change, perhaps rapidly.


pages: 309 words: 91,581

The Great Divergence: America's Growing Inequality Crisis and What We Can Do About It by Timothy Noah

assortative mating, autonomous vehicles, blue-collar work, Bonfire of the Vanities, Branko Milanovic, business cycle, call centre, collective bargaining, computer age, corporate governance, Credit Default Swap, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, Deng Xiaoping, easy for humans, difficult for computers, Erik Brynjolfsson, Everybody Ought to Be Rich, feminist movement, Frank Levy and Richard Murnane: The New Division of Labor, Gini coefficient, Gunnar Myrdal, income inequality, industrial robot, invisible hand, job automation, Joseph Schumpeter, longitudinal study, low skilled workers, lump of labour, manufacturing employment, moral hazard, oil shock, pattern recognition, Paul Samuelson, performance metric, positional goods, post-industrial society, postindustrial economy, purchasing power parity, refrigerator car, rent control, Richard Feynman, Ronald Reagan, shareholder value, Silicon Valley, Simon Kuznets, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, The Spirit Level, too big to fail, trickle-down economics, Tyler Cowen: Great Stagnation, union organizing, upwardly mobile, very high income, Vilfredo Pareto, War on Poverty, We are the 99%, women in the workforce, Works Progress Administration, Yom Kippur War

News, working in consultation with the economist Heidi Shierholz of the Washington-based Economic Policy Institute, a liberal-leaning think tank, calculated that the middle class shrank by about 6 percent between 1980 and 2009. 5. Rose, Social Stratification, 27–28; and Rose, Rebound, 103. 6. Economists call this the “lump of labor fallacy.” The term was coined by the British economist David F. Schloss, who wrote in 1891: “The theory of the Lump of Labour will be seen to rest upon the utterly untenable supposition that a fixed amount of work exists, which has to be done, and will be done, irrespective of the conditions under which the work is done, and, in particular, irrespective of the efficiency of the labour employed; and that, the more work is done by any one workman, the less work remains to be done by all other workmen… The character of this fallacy will best be understood [through]… the precisely similar objection to a man’s using the best available tools; in other words, with the popular objection to the use of motor power and machinery.


pages: 209 words: 89,619

The Precariat: The New Dangerous Class by Guy Standing

8-hour work day, banking crisis, barriers to entry, basic income, Bertrand Russell: In Praise of Idleness, call centre, Cass Sunstein, centre right, collective bargaining, corporate governance, crony capitalism, deindustrialization, deskilling, fear of failure, full employment, hiring and firing, Honoré de Balzac, housing crisis, illegal immigration, immigration reform, income inequality, labour market flexibility, labour mobility, land reform, libertarian paternalism, low skilled workers, lump of labour, marginal employment, Mark Zuckerberg, mass immigration, means of production, mini-job, moral hazard, Naomi Klein, nudge unit, old age dependency ratio, Panopticon Jeremy Bentham, pensions crisis, placebo effect, post-industrial society, precariat, presumed consent, quantitative easing, remote working, rent-seeking, Richard Thaler, rising living standards, Ronald Coase, Ronald Reagan, science of happiness, shareholder value, Silicon Valley, The Market for Lemons, The Nature of the Firm, The Spirit Level, Tobin tax, transaction costs, universal basic income, unpaid internship, winner-take-all economy, working poor, working-age population, young professional

If the income accruing to such funds could be shared, the precariat would gain a means of control over their lives. It is all very well for economists to claim that jobs will come in non-tradable sectors. A POLITICS OF PARADISE 177 What we are learning is that most activities are tradable. Expecting jobs to be the means by which inequality is reduced is whistling in the wind. Jobs will not disappear. To think otherwise is to accept the ‘lump of labour fallacy’. But many if not most will be low paying and insecure. Capital funds can be used to accumulate financial returns to help pay for a basic income. There are precedents. The Alaska Permanent Fund, established in 1976, was set up to distribute part of the profits from oil production to every legal resident of Alaska. It continues to do so. It is not a perfect model, since its governance can result in the relative neglect of the precariat or tomorrow’s Alaskans relative to today’s.


pages: 443 words: 98,113

The Corruption of Capitalism: Why Rentiers Thrive and Work Does Not Pay by Guy Standing

3D printing, Airbnb, Albert Einstein, Amazon Mechanical Turk, Asian financial crisis, asset-backed security, bank run, banking crisis, basic income, Ben Bernanke: helicopter money, Bernie Sanders, Big bang: deregulation of the City of London, bilateral investment treaty, Bonfire of the Vanities, Boris Johnson, Bretton Woods, business cycle, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, carried interest, cashless society, central bank independence, centre right, Clayton Christensen, collapse of Lehman Brothers, collective bargaining, credit crunch, crony capitalism, crowdsourcing, debt deflation, declining real wages, deindustrialization, disruptive innovation, Doha Development Round, Donald Trump, Double Irish / Dutch Sandwich, ending welfare as we know it, eurozone crisis, falling living standards, financial deregulation, financial innovation, Firefox, first-past-the-post, future of work, gig economy, Goldman Sachs: Vampire Squid, Growth in a Time of Debt, housing crisis, income inequality, information retrieval, intangible asset, invention of the steam engine, investor state dispute settlement, James Watt: steam engine, job automation, John Maynard Keynes: technological unemployment, labour market flexibility, light touch regulation, Long Term Capital Management, lump of labour, Lyft, manufacturing employment, Mark Zuckerberg, market clearing, Martin Wolf, means of production, mini-job, Mont Pelerin Society, moral hazard, mortgage debt, mortgage tax deduction, Neil Kinnock, non-tariff barriers, North Sea oil, Northern Rock, nudge unit, Occupy movement, offshore financial centre, oil shale / tar sands, open economy, openstreetmap, patent troll, payday loans, peer-to-peer lending, plutocrats, Plutocrats, Ponzi scheme, precariat, quantitative easing, remote working, rent control, rent-seeking, ride hailing / ride sharing, Right to Buy, Robert Gordon, Ronald Coase, Ronald Reagan, Sam Altman, savings glut, Second Machine Age, secular stagnation, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, Simon Kuznets, sovereign wealth fund, Stephen Hawking, Steve Ballmer, structural adjustment programs, TaskRabbit, The Chicago School, The Future of Employment, the payments system, The Rise and Fall of American Growth, Thomas Malthus, Thorstein Veblen, too big to fail, Travis Kalanick, Uber and Lyft, Uber for X, uber lyft, Y Combinator, zero-sum game, Zipcar

Although measured unemployment is higher than a few decades ago, this must be seen in the context of population growth and globalisation, in which the world’s labour supply has more than tripled. There are more jobs than at any time in history. One difficulty is that many analysts interpret ‘disruption’ – a favoured word – as the destruction of jobs in general and the simple replacement of labour by robots and automation. This rests on the ‘lump of labour fallacy’ – the assumption that there is only a certain amount of labour to be done; if machines can do more at less cost, then workers (particularly those with ‘low skills’) will be displaced. But there is not a fixed amount of labour and work to be done. Sooner or later, commentators cite the Luddite riots that began in 1809, when self-employed weavers smashed machines. The pejorative term ‘Luddite’ has come to symbolise opposition to progress.