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Poor health as a potential risk factor for job loss due to automation: the case of Norway
  1. Philipp Hessel1,2,
  2. Solveig Christiansen1,
  3. Vegard Skirbekk1,3
  1. 1 Department of Epidemiology, Norwegian Institute of Public Health, Oslo, Norway
  2. 2 Alberto Lleras Camargo School of Government, University of the Andes, Bogotá, Colombia
  3. 3 Columbia Aging Center, Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University, Oslo, Norway
  1. Correspondence to Professor Vegard Skirbekk, Centre for Fertility and Health, Norwegian Institute of Public Health, Marcus Thranes Gate 6, 0473 Oslo, Norway; vegard.skirbekk{at}


Objective This study aimed to quantify the extent to which health characteristics of workers are related to the potential risk of experiencing job displacement due to automation.

Methods Linking the 2015 Norwegian Statistics on Income and Living Conditions survey (n=6393) with predicted probabilities of automation by occupation, we used Kruskal-Wallis tests and multivariate generalised linear models to assess the association between long-standing illnesses and risk of job automation.

Results Individuals with long-standing illnesses face substantially greater risks of losing their job due to automation. Whereas the average risk of job automation is 57% for men and 49% for women with long-standing illnesses, the risk is only 50% for men and 44% for women with limitations (p<0.001). Controlling for age, having a long-standing illness significantly increases the relative risk of facing job automation among men (risk ratio (RR) 1.13, 95% CI 1.09 to 1.19), as well as women (RR 1.11, 95% CI 1.05 to 1.17). While, among men, the association between long-standing illness and risk of job automation remains significant when controlling for education and income, it becomes insignificant among women.

Conclusions Individuals with poor health are likely to carry the highest burden of technological change in terms of worsening employment prospects because of working in occupations disproportionally more likely to be automated. Although the extent of technology-related job displacement will depend on several factors, given the far-reaching negative consequences of job loss on health and well-being, this process represents a significant challenge for public health and social equity.

  • unemployment
  • automatisation
  • Norway
  • job loss

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  • Contributors VS had the idea for the paper. All authors designed the empirical analyses that were carried out by SC. All authors interpreted the results. PH wrote the first draft of the paper, which was subsequently revised by all authors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.