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Expand chart
Data: Information Technology & Innovation Foundation; Chart: Chris Canipe/Axios

A common way to measure the use of robots around the world shows that wealthy countries — like Korea, Singapore, Germany and the U.S. — are way ahead of the curve, while China flounders behind unlikely characters like Slovenia and the Czech Republic.

Why it matters: Taking wages into account changes the landscape dramatically. When comparing countries’ actual robot adoption to the quantity one would expect based on their wage levels, Asian countries far outstrip Europe and the U.S.

Details: A new report from the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation created baselines for expected robot adoption using manufacturing workers’ pay. Then, ITIF compared each country's baseline to the actual number of robots there.

  • The report's authors argue this measure is more useful than the more standard one: the number of industrial robots per 10,000 manufacturing workers.
  • "That’s not the real story, because robots cost money," ITIF president Robert Atkinson says in a video released with the report. "It makes sense to install more of them in countries with high wages, because they pay for themselves more quickly that way."
  • The new ranking, reproduced above, shows which countries are investing in robots beyond the standard level that ITIF says makes economic sense for that country.

China in particular leapt from laggard to leader in ITIF’s reassessment.

  • As we’ve written before, the country is moving swiftly to become a robotics superpower, both as a consumer and a producer.
  • "We project it will lead the world in robot adoption in less than a decade, controlling for wage levels," says Atkinson.

The countries at the high end of the graph above generally have national strategies or policies in place for investing in robots, the ITIF report says.

  • By contrast, the 16th place American finish "reflects an overall lag in capital expenditures by U.S. manufacturers and an almost complete lack of a national robotics strategy."

Go deeper

By the numbers: Census to show first decline of white population

Expand chart
Data: U.S. Census Bureau via Brookings Institute; Chart: Sara Wise/Axios

The latest census is expected to show the first decline in history for the nation's non-Hispanic white population, according to an analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data by the Brookings Institution's William Frey.

Why it matters: The U.S. is rapidly moving toward a majority-minority population — with the racial and ethnic diversity most apparent in younger cohorts. "This really is moving in a direction that’s going to favor the issues and the political agendas of these younger people," Frey told Axios.

15 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Democrats plot filibuster workarounds

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Several Democratic lawmakers are moving away from calls to eliminate the filibuster while privately discussing alternatives to bypass it, Axios has learned.

Why it matters: These talks have ramped up in earnest following the Republicans’ move Tuesday to block a measure to protect and expand voting rights.

15 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Infrastructure's remaining potholes

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

President Biden declared victory in announcing the bipartisan infrastructure package. Now comes the hard part: negotiating with his own party on the separate reconciliation bill.

Why it matters: By trying to simultaneously pass two massive spending bills, Biden and congressional leaders are attempting a legislative feat that will likely require Congress to work through its August recess — and potentially well into the fall, according to lawmakers and senior staffers.

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