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Women and educated workers more at risk to suffer from AI, IMF says

30% of jobs in advanced economies can be negatively affected by artificial intelligence. Women and more educated workers are at higher risk. Almost 40% of global employment is exposed to AI, with advanced economies at greater risk but also better poised to exploit AI benefits than emerging market and developing economies, a report from International Monetary Fund shows. 

In advanced economies, about 60% of jobs are exposed to AI, due to prevalence of cognitive-task-oriented jobs. About half may be negatively affected by AI, while the rest could benefit from enhanced productivity through AI integration, the report, Artificial Intelligence and the Future of Work, says.

Overall exposure is 40% in emerging market economies and 26% in low-income countries. “Although many emerging market and developing economies may experience less immediate AI-related disruptions, they are also less ready to seize AI’s advantages. This could exacerbate the digital divide and cross-country income disparity.”

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Exposure is higher for women and for more educated workers but is mitigated by a higher potential for complementarity with AI. In most countries, women tend to be employed in high-exposure occupations more than men. Because this share is distributed approximately equally between low- and high-complementarity jobs, the result can be interpreted to mean that women face both greater risks and greater opportunities, the report says. 

“AI will affect income and wealth inequality. Unlike previous waves of automation, which had the strongest effect on middle-skilled workers, AI displacement risks extend to higher-wage earners.”

“However, potential AI complementarity is positively correlated with income. Hence, the effect on labour income inequality depends largely on the extent to which AI displaces or complements high-income workers.” 

The report says that model simulations suggest that, with high complementarity, higher-wage earners can expect a more-than-proportional increase in their labour income, leading to an increase in labour income inequality. 

“This would amplify the increase in income and wealth inequality that results from enhanced capital returns that accrue to high earners. 

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