Employment risks and quality of work in the digital transformation

Empirical analyses on AI, platform work and digital workplaces with the SOEP

The digital transformation is permanently changing the collaboration between humans and machines and has been a relevant topic in politics and in the public. In order to make the most of digitization potential for inclusive growth, the German government has drawn up a Digital Agenda. In particular, the White Paper on Work 4.0 by the BMAS summarizes the challenges facing the German labor market and calls for evidence-based policy decisions and public reporting on the world of work. calls for. In particular, the think tank Digital Work Society is also working on central topics such as artificial intelligence, platform work and the characteristics of digitized jobs.

The current wave of technological progress - the digital transformation - is characterized by physical and virtual worlds, which in principle establishes new communication channels and thus opens up communication channels and thus creates opportunities for more flexible working hours, methods and locations, working methods and places of work. The impact of digitization on the world of work and society is multifaceted and harbors opportunities, but also considerable risks. On the one hand, digitization can create new jobs for population groups that can only make limited use of the usual forms of employment only to a limited extent, such as pensioners or mothers. On the second, digitization has the potential to replace some jobs that were previously performed by humans, and consequently to people, and consequently change the demand structure for occupations. In addition digitization of the world of work can also help to break down the boundaries between work and leisure time, resulting in an overall increase in workload. Our interdisciplinary project will - on the theoretical and methodological basis of economics and sociology - provide new evidence on digital workplaces, platform work and artificial intelligence. It will thus provide a sound basis for decision-makers, to make evidence-based political decisions in labor and social policy that minimize transformation costs and allow as many population groups as possible to benefit from technological progress.

Studies on the current prevalence of digitization (AI, platform work, and digitized workplaces) and their consequences for the world of work in Germany are barely available, which is due to a lack of reliable social science survey data. Overall, it is so far only possible to make a rough assessment of the extent to which digitization is already determining everyday working life and which population groups, sectors of the economy, qualification groups or occupational groups it actually affects. Furthermore, it is unclear which jobs will benefit from digitization and who will bear the associated costs and to what extent. The effects on private life and at the household level are also not yet quantified. Our research project addresses precisely these issues with the help of an innovative questionnaire module, which will be used in 2019 as part of the innovation sample and 2020 in the main survey of the Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP). Thus, the innovative data module complements the research by providing integrated analyses of the various aspects of digitization are recorded simultaneously, and all employee employee groups are surveyed in their household context. The innovative character of the data requires - in addition to the content analyses - also methodological research to verification of the survey instruments, and provides important evidence that goes beyond the existing surveys of employees and companies.

With a view to the political and social necessity of sound research on digitization and its evaluation, our project encompasses the following goals: First, to record the spread of digitization, as measured by the prevalence of artificial Intelligence, platform work, and digitized jobs by means of (a) SOEP-IS, starting in 2019 (Socioeconomic Panel, Innovation Sample, approx. 1,500 respondents) and (b) SOEP, from 2020 (Socioeconomic Panel, Main Survey, approximately 30,000 respondents). Second, interdisciplinary research in the two dominant research strands of the social sciences: To the economic focus on "substitution and employment growth in the digital world of work" and the sociological and the sociological focus on "quality of work and social inequality in the digital world of work. Third, survey-methodological research to elicit the characteristics in the survey data and their validation using existing data sources. An important output of the methodological research is a compact yet meaningful survey module, which can be used in national and international household household surveys.

The Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP) is a well-established longitudinal study that has been documenting changes in society since 1984, providing a valuable basis for research and political decisions. The innovation sample of the SOEP serves both to test innovative survey content and methodological designs, as well as to serve as an independent data basis for evaluating the content of this newly collected information. Due to the comparatively small sample size, however, the information provided is limited. For this reason, more complex analyses are only possible after the collection of the data in the main SOEP survey, in which more than 14,000 households are currently being surveyed on a regular basis. A representative survey of households, such as the SOEP, is ideally suited for a systematic and comprehensive survey of the extent and consequences of digitization, which go beyond the direct consequences at the workplace and therefore cannot be be captured in purely employee surveys.