Where Are the Robots?

Statista has collected data from the International Federation of Robotics to show which countries have most thoroughly embraced robots. They’ve compared the robot density — how many robots per 10,000 workers — in countries all around the world.

South Korea is in first place, which is probably not a surprise — but did you know that Sweden has more robots per worker than the United States?

We weren’t surprised to see China high on the list, but we were a little surprised to see China’s rise from 97 robots per 10,000 workers in 2017 to more than triple that rate in 2021. The U.S. has gone from 200 to 274 in the same time period, about the same rate of increase as Sweden.

Robot density in the rest of the world

The world average density of robots is 128, with Asia highest among the continents with a group average of 134 robots per 10,000 workers. In addition to Japan and China in the top places, Singapore, Taiwan, and Hong Kong all have above-average robot density.

Europe is next, with an average robot density of 123. The Americas have 111 robots per 10,000 workers.

South Africa has 28 and the rest of Africa has such a low level of robot use that they didn’t even make it onto the graphs. “[M]any Africans depend on traditional, manual labour and there is a risk that it will be less required in the future. They fear that automation will replace people,” says Investment Monitor. “Youth unemployment in South Africa is already at 66.5%, according to Stats SA. Workers displaced by automation or robots will have to retool to survive and that will be a difficult thing for many people to do.”

At the same time, Africa realizes that keeping up with current technology is a must for global competition. A brain drain of educated young people threatens many sub-Saharan nations, but Ai and automation could provide higher productivity, new careers, and opportunities for new graduates.

Meanwhile, back at the factory…

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