Education and Skills

The countries where you're most likely to be replaced by a robot

A worker monitors a robotic arm working inside a factory in Huaian, Jiangsu province, China May 15, 2018. Picture taken May 15, 2018.  REUTERS/Stringer  ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. CHINA OUT. - RC1360033A90

A worker monitors his robotic colleague in China Image: REUTERS/Stringer

Simone Stolzoff
Our Impact
What's the World Economic Forum doing to accelerate action on Education and Skills?
The Big Picture
Explore and monitor how Education is affecting economies, industries and global issues
A hand holding a looking glass by a lake
Crowdsource Innovation
Get involved with our crowdsourced digital platform to deliver impact at scale
Stay up to date:


There’s perhaps no more telling metric for our time than the number of robots in a country per every 10,000 manufacturing workers. With the threat of automation looming, it’s commonly understood that manufacturing jobs will be some of the first to go. But researchers believe the metric may not be the best way to measure countries’ openness to a bot-filled future.

As a new report from the Information, Technology, and Innovation Foundation notes, there is a naturally stronger economic case for adopting robots in higher-wage economies than in lower-wage economies, meaning the popularity of robots is skewed to favor countries that can afford to pay for them. This makes sense, given that industrial robots can cost well over $100,000 each.

The report suggests that instead, we should factor in countries’ average wages in order to get a real sense of how willing they are to embrace industrial robots.

Compare these two charts. In the first, countries are listed in descending order based on the number of industrial robots in circulation in 2017. Not surprisingly, rich countries—like South Korea, Germany, and the United States—have some of the highest rates of adoption. But adjust for each countries’ wages, and the data tell a very different story.

Image: Information, Technology, and Innovation Foundation

In the second chart, the researchers adjusted for the expected robot adoption rate given the countries’ relative wealth. You’ll see that many European and American countries have lower-than-expected adoption rates.

Have you read?
Image: Information, Technology, and Innovation Foundation

The upshot of all of this is relatively straightforward. When taking wages into account, Asian countries far outpace their western counterparts. If robots are the future of manufacturing, American and European countries have some catching up to do to stay competitive.

Don't miss any update on this topic

Create a free account and access your personalized content collection with our latest publications and analyses.

Sign up for free

License and Republishing

World Economic Forum articles may be republished in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International Public License, and in accordance with our Terms of Use.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author alone and not the World Economic Forum.

Related topics:
Education and SkillsJobs and the Future of WorkEmerging Technologies
World Economic Forum logo
Global Agenda

The Agenda Weekly

A weekly update of the most important issues driving the global agenda

Subscribe today

You can unsubscribe at any time using the link in our emails. For more details, review our privacy policy.

Why we need global minimum quality standards in EdTech

Natalia Kucirkova

April 17, 2024

About Us



Partners & Members

  • Join Us

Language Editions

Privacy Policy & Terms of Service

© 2024 World Economic Forum