Donato Onorato, a 2018 Penn graduate who majored in mathematical economics, has been selected as one of four finalists in the International Atlantic Economic Society's 14th Annual Best Undergraduate Paper Competition. His paper, “Robots, Unions, and Aging: Determinants of Robot Adoption Evidence from OECD Countries” was written as a 2018 senior thesis in economics with Professors Jere R Behrman and Hanming Fang as his advisors. He is invited to present his work at the 86th International Atlantic Economic Conference in Washington, DC, on October 13, 2018.
His paper is an empirical study that looks at the economic factors associated with industrial robot adoption. Mr. Onorato develops a two-sector model of the role of robots in an economy and creates an integrated data set for 2001-2015 with robot data from the International Federation of Robotics (IFR), age structures of country populations from the United Nations, GDP per capita and industry-level value added data from the World Bank, union density and hours worked from the OECD. He estimates large and robust negative effects of aging and unions on industrial robot adoption amongst OECD countries. Based on his estimates, he predicts that had the ratio of young-to-old workers and union density remained at their 2010 levels, on average there would be 3.29 and 1.34 fewer robots per 10,000 workers in 2015. Additionally, he predicts that by 2020 the OECD will add an additional 9.95 robots per 10,000 workers, doubling the OECD average during the sample period. South Korea, Germany, and Slovakia will see the largest increases of 80, 23, and 21 additional robots per 10,000 workers respectively.