The Future of Work Might Not Be So Bleak

From a report, shared by readers: That said, technology can also favor standard salaried employment. The economists George Baker and Thomas Hubbard, for example, have noted how onboard computers could change U.S. trucking. By monitoring behavior, they would solve a moral hazard problem: Drivers have little incentive to be as careful with company trucks as they would with their own. As a result, more drivers could become employees of companies that buy and maintain fleets, rather than going it alone. They wouldn’t have to invest in their own vehicles, which makes them vulnerable to recessions by putting their savings in the same sector as their labor; and they wouldn’t be out of pocket and out of work when their trucks broke down. More generally, conventional jobs have a lot of advantages. First, a single worker or group of workers might lack the capital needed to set up a business, or prefer to avoid the stress and risk of running one (consider doctors or dentists who choose to be employees of a medical clinic). Second, business owners might not want their employees to have other bosses — particularly if the work involves confidential information or team projects that require undivided time and attention. Third, reputations based on ratings might not be reliable: The economist Diane Coyle has shown that the quality of individual consultants can be hard to monitor, at least immediately, whereas a traditional consultancy may be more efficient at “guaranteeing” quality. In short, I believe that salaried employment will not disappear, although it might become less prevalent over time.

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