Winners and losers: countries

How countries will react to the massive loss of employment resulting from the Third Industrial Revolution will define whether they became winners or losers at the end of the transformation process. The new era to come -the world without jobs- will be the result of a decades-long painful process that will stretch and squeeze the human specie for adaptation in all aspects (social, economic, demographic…).

The winners will be those able to steadily adapt their labor markets to the robotic revolution without neglecting the social contract with their own population. That will require a much less economist -and more humanistic- approach that capitalistic countries were able to do for the last couple of decades.

First of all, a national basic income will be required. As working age population see their right to employment restricted -more unemployment, more underemployment, worse working conditions…- the countries will have to face the only viable solution if a market economy wants to be preserved: the introduction of a national basic income. A national basic income, together with some other economic and social measures, will work for ensure access to food and housing of those that start falling outside the system. May only the most developed countries will be able to implement this measure, and not only for their economic capacity. Read below.

Second of all, population control. As bad as it sounds, in a world without no jobs to provide income for a living, and with the state having to provide for a basic income, having more than one child might be/should be/will be unrealistic/unsustainable/(illegal?). The problem is more acute on developing countries, since the countries with higher fertility rate are those, and since the bigger family size is usually concentrated on the lower income quintiles. Developed countries have another advantage here, named their low fertility rate. Of course their population have longer life expectancies, but this is not a problem of comparable magnitude to the population growth in the developing countries.

Thirdly, less jobs, diminished labor week; one family, one job. Despite of criticism, the French got it right when they opted to reduce their labor week down to 35 hours. In the future, with a shrinking labor market, the temporary solution will be reducing the amount of working hours per week to create incentives for creating two jobs from one post. Other measure, more difficult to implant, would be prevent by law two members of the same family to have a job. These two measures will help to distribute the diminishing national rent of the labor force.

Fourth, more philosophy, less maths. Just another way to say: education will not have use for preparing for the labor market anymore. The children that will be born more importantly have to be prepared for something more important: find their purpose in live. Most of our individual identity as adults is given by our job. Our status, our personal and social identities, are defined by the position we take in the labor market. What we are, how we feel, how we differentiate with other human beings without that category in our biographies? What if we do not have a job? This is the most important challenge I believe humans will have to face by the end of this century if the Third Industrial Revolution succeeds in conquering all the corners of our labor markets.

Fifth, a new deal. The practical total robotization of the labor market is unavoidable if our culture remains unchanged and free market continues to be the play ground and greed the leitmotiv, and will happen in the coming decades. To what extend, to what speed, is something that will have to be agreed between citizens and elites (political and economic elites). If the pace is too fast or the extend is too deep, there will be social unrest and threats of a revolution. If the pace, and the depth is the appropriate could be able to bring humans to a more spiritual, less materialistic, and more fulfilling era. And literally, to the stars.

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