Is the Era of Work Coming to an End? Erasmus Lecture delivered at the Budapest meeting of the Academia Europaea, 5 September 2017

Authors: Andreu Mas-Colell

European Review, Vol. 27, No 1, 1-16, February, 2019

The question in the title is examined from the standpoint of economic thinking. Three ideas are sustained: (1) if made an objective of economic policy, the necessity of work could be minimized in the distant future; (2) this is not what is desirable or will tend to happen. Even in extreme scenarios of robot adoption considerable demand for human labor should persist in tasks related to the expansion of the knowledge frontier and in those where the humanity of the executor is of the essence for the definition of the task (performing, sports, care, companionship, and so on); (3) redistributive taxation may well be in order. Guaranteed income schemes, and the link with entitlement through work, are discussed.