The Public Interest

Technology and unemployment

Robert M. Solow

Fall 1965

Whenever there is both rapid technological change and high unemployment the two will inevitably be connected in people’s minds. So it is not surprising that technological unemployment was a live subject during the depression of the 1930’s, nor that the debate has now revived. The discussion of thirty years ago was inconclusive, partly because there were more urgent things to worry about and partly because economists did not then have a workable theory of income and employment as a whole. They have now. Curiously, the current discussion seems to take place mainly outside of professional economies. That may be because economists feel there are no longer any very important intellectual issues at stake. If that is so, it may be worth stating what the agreed position is.

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