| SPF Religion. Gesellschaft. Weltbeziehung., Staatswissenschaftliche Fakultät, Willy Brandt School of Public Policy, Development and Socio-Economic Policies, Forschung

New research project on the political consequences of digitalization on the labor market of emerging economies

Over the next three years, the German Research Foundation (DFG) will provide approximately 700,000 euros to support the research project "Politics and the Future of Work in Middle-Income Countries (PolDigWork). How Hopes and Fears about Digitalization Shape Opinions on Social and Labour Policies” at the Willy Brandt School of Public Policy at the University of Erfurt. It is led by Prof. Dr. Achim Kemmerling, holder of the Gerhard Haniel Professorship for Public Policy and International Development, and examines the social and political impact of digitalization and automation on labor markets in the countries of Mexico, Indonesia and South Africa.


The future of work has enormous implications for the policies and (core) measures of welfare states, especially social and labor market policies. New forms of digitalization and automation are changing the way society "works". In Germany and Europe, the consequences of digitization for the labor market are therefore the subject of controversial debate: Some fear massive job losses or a shortage of skilled workers, while others emphasize the positive effects, such as increased flexibility and creativity or a decrease in dangerous activities. While social and political scientists are beginning to understand the processes and outcomes of this change in advanced industrialized countries, there is little evidence on the political consequences for middle-income countries.

Professor Achim Kemmerling wants to fill this research gap and investigate with his project what effects the digital transformation has in countries outside Europe. "Digitization can have even stronger consequences – both negative and positive – for middle-income countries, where digitization is in some cases even more advanced than here," says Kemmerling. "These states are still strongly characterized by informality and enormous differences between urban and rural areas." The project will therefore investigate how digitization affects the social and political integration of different people, and whether it tends to have unifying or polarizing effects. "Understanding this is also important for the German debate. Because in emerging countries, processes that we can also observe here often take place in fast motion."

Picture: Desola Lanre Ologun (via Unsplash)


Gerhard Haniel Professor for Public Policy and International Development
(Willy Brandt School of Public Policy)
C19 - Research Building "Weltbeziehungen" / C19.02.07