Are they coming for us? Industrial robots and the mental health of workers

Publication: Scientific journalJournal articlepeer-review


How does the increasing use of robots affect the mental health of workers? To investigate this question, we combine individual mental health data from the German Socioeconomic Panel with data on the stock of robots in 14 manufacturing sectors provided by the International Federation of Robotics for the period 2002–2018. Using mediation analysis and an instrumental variable approach, we find that higher robot intensity is associated with deteriorating mental health, an effect that is mainly driven by worries about job security and a lower sense of achievement on the job. A heterogeneity analysis reveals that higher robot intensity has particularly severe negative effects on the mental health of workers close to retirement, in low-skilled occupations and performing routine jobs. Women and men are affected similarly, as are workers of all educational levels. Our results indicate the presence of hidden (health) costs of automation that policymakers need to address.
Original languageEnglish
Article number104956
JournalResearch Policy
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2024

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