Agriculture 4.0? Studying the evidence for automation in Chilean agriculture

Rodrigo Perez-Silva, Jorge Campos


In recent decades, computing-based technologies have been large contributors to the current digital and knowledge economy. This process has led to changes in the structure of employment and variations in relative wages across workers in skill distribution, with computing-based technologies representing the technological shift shaping current and future labor demand. In this regard, how job tasks might be replaced or complemented by computing-based technologies becomes a new and critical aspect in explaining how technological progress drives labor demand. Agriculture, as well as other sectors, has taken advantage of this technical progress, with emergent technologies contributing to the shift toward Agriculture 4.0. In the case of Chile, the evidence points to an overall reduction in the agricultural labor force and to an increase in the relative number of salaried workers within agriculture, particularly those in temporary jobs. However, nothing has been said about the types of tasks being performed in the sector, its evolution over time, and its relationship with automation. If agriculture is under a technological upgrading process, then we should expect the reduction in the number of salaried workers to be accompanied by an increase in the relative skillset of those still in the industry performing non-routine tasks. Contrary to what one might expect, our results suggest that the participation of routine tasks in agriculture has only increased over time, pointing to a low adoption of computing-based technologies compared to other economic sectors within the Chilean economy.


Agriculture, automation, Chile, computing-based technologies, routinization

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