Advancement to Candidacy Presentation: “The Impact of Industrial Robots on Underemployment in the United States", Rihyeon Kang

Date and Time
North Hall 2111


Rihyeon Kang, University of California, Santa Barbara


Rihyeon is a Ph.D. student in Economics at the University of California, Santa Barbara. Her research focuses on labor economics and public economics, specifically examining the intersections of education and demography. She is currently in educational mismatch in the labor market.

Event Details

Rihyeon will be presenting her Advancement to Candidacy paper, “The Impact of Industrial Robots on Underemployment in the United States”. To access the Advancement paper, you must have an active UCSB NetID and password.

Abstract and JEL Codes

I examine the impact of automation technologies, specifically industrial robots serving as a proxy for routine-manual-biased technology, on endogenous human capital investment and underemployment in the U.S. labor market. By exploiting variations in a Bartik-style measure of exposure to robots that vary by individuals’ birth cohort, age, and state of residence, I investigate the correlation between robot exposure at different life stages and individuals’ investment in higher education and educational mismatch probability in the labor market. I find that robot exposure during individuals’ prime college-attending ages (ages 18-21) may increase college enrollment, and robot exposure during the early career exploration stage (ages 22-26) is positively correlated with their bachelor’s degree completion. Furthermore, I also find that the increased investment in higher education results in an increased probability of being underemployed, where individuals are overeducated compared to the required education level for their jobs. These findings indicate an overresponse in individuals’ endogenous human capital investment compared to the net labor demand effect resulting from advances in robotics for the creation of college-level jobs in the U.S.

JEL Codes: I21, I26, J23, J24



Research Areas