World Bank chief warns automation could make two-thirds of jobs in developing countries obsolete

LOS ANGELES — World Bank president Jim Yong Kim said about two-thirds of jobs in the developing world may be lost due to automation.

Kim made the comments during a presentation on May 1 at the Milken Institute Global Conference held at the Beverly Hilton.

These are some of the countries that risk losing jobs:

  • 85% in Ethiopia
  • 77% in China
  • 72% in Thailand.

The prediction isn’t new, as such. His comments at the Milken event echo those he made 2017 World Bank Group/IMF Spring meeting in April.

He said then:

We estimate that two-thirds of all jobs that currently exist in developing countries will be wiped out by automation. At the same time the internet, smart phones, and social media allow everyone to see exactly how everyone else lives, which is causing aspirations to rise all over the world. I see this everywhere I go. So in the midst of these crises and with rising aspirations we must change the way we work in development finance. We have to find new and innovative ways to reach the poor and make the world more secure and stable and to help the world grow.

And in 2016, the World Bank said two thirds of the jobs in the developing world were susceptible to automation. The report said:

Nobody can predict the full impact of technological change in coming decades, which may be faster and broader than previous ones. What is clear, however, is that policy makers face a race between technology and education, and the winners will be those who encourage skill upgrading so that all can benefit from digital opportunities.

Still, the number is striking.

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