The global upward trend in the profit share
AbstractProfits growth has been strong in many developed economies in recent years, and the profit share - the share of factor income going to capital – has been high compared with historical experience. This paper shows that, rather than being a recent phenomenon, profit shares have trended upwards since about the mid 1980s in most developed economies for which comparable data are available. There are a number of possible explanations for this, but not all of them are consistent with a global trend over two decades, nor do they fit cross-country differences in the trend in the profit share. The preferred explanation advanced in this paper is that ongoing technological progress has increased the rate of obsolescence of capital goods. This induces a greater rate of churn in both capital and jobs, which puts firms in a stronger bargaining position relative to a labour force that now faces more frequent job losses on average. Firms can therefore reap a larger fraction of the economic surplus created by market frictions, which raises the measured profit share. This effect is stronger where labour market institutions are more rigid, consistent with the cross-country pattern in the trends in the profit share. There is also a positive relationship between the size of the trend in the profit share, and the extent of product market regulation. This suggests a role for competition and innovation in driving down high profit margins. These explanations appear to fit the data better than alternatives raised in the literature.
Download InfoIf you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.
Bibliographic InfoPaper provided by Bank for International Settlements in its series BIS Working Papers with number 231.
Length: 29 pages
Date of creation: Jul 2007
Date of revision:
Profit share; technological progress; vintage capital;
Other versions of this item:
- Luci Ellis & Kathryn Smith, 2010. "The Global Upward Trend in the Profit Share," Applied Economics Quarterly (formerly: Konjunkturpolitik), Duncker & Humblot, Berlin, vol. 56(3), pages 231-256.
- L13 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance - - - Oligopoly and Other Imperfect Markets
- L32 - Industrial Organization - - Nonprofit Organizations and Public Enterprise - - - Public Enterprises; Public-Private Enterprises
This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:
- NEP-ALL-2007-09-02 (All new papers)
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
- Giuseppe Nicoletti & Stefano Scarpetta & Olivier Boylaud, 2000. "Summary Indicators of Product Market Regulation with an Extension to Employment Protection Legislation," OECD Economics Department Working Papers 226, OECD Publishing.
- Lynn Elaine Browne & Rebecca Hellerstein, 1997. "Are we investing too little?," New England Economic Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, issue Nov, pages 29-50.
- Benoit Dostie & Mathieu Trépanier, 2004.
"Return to Computer Use and Organizational Practices of the firm,"
Cahiers de recherche
04-06, HEC Montréal, Institut d'économie appliquée.
- Dostie, Benoit & Trépanier, Mathieu, 2005. "Returns to Computer Use and Organizational Practices of the Firm," IZA Discussion Papers 1541, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
- Eve Caroli & John Van Reenen, 2001.
"Skill-Biased Organizational Change? Evidence From A Panel Of British And French Establishments,"
The Quarterly Journal of Economics,
MIT Press, vol. 116(4), pages 1449-1492, November.
- Caroli, Eve & Van Reenen, John, 1999. "Skill biased organizational change? Evidence from a panel of British and French establishments," CEPREMAP Working Papers (Couverture Orange) 9917, CEPREMAP.
- Cadiou, Loic & Dees, Stephane & Laffargue, Jean-Pierre, 2003.
"A computational general equilibrium model with vintage capital,"
Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control,
Elsevier, vol. 27(11-12), pages 1961-1991, September.
- Cadiou, Loı̈c & Dées, Stéphane & Laffargue, Jean-Pierre, 2003. "A computational general equilibrium model with vintage capital," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 27(11), pages 1961-1991.
- Paul Conway & Giuseppe Nicoletti, 2006. "Product Market Regulation in the Non-Manufacturing Sectors of OECD Countries: Measurement and Highlights," OECD Economics Department Working Papers 530, OECD Publishing.
- Timilsina, Govinda R. & Shrestha, Ashish, 2008. "The growth of transport cector CO2 emissions and underlying factors in Latin America and the Caribbean," Policy Research Working Paper Series 4734, The World Bank.
- repec:pra:mprapa:43050 is not listed on IDEAS
- Karanassou, Marika & Sala, Hector, 2011.
"Inequality and Employment Sensitivities to the Falling Labour Share,"
IZA Discussion Papers
5796, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
- Marika Karanassou & Hector Sala, 2012. "Inequality and Employment Sensitivities to the Falling Labour Share," The Economic and Social Review, Economic and Social Studies, vol. 43(3), pages 343-376.
- Marika Karanassou & Hector Sala, 2011. "Inequality and Employment Sensitivities to the Falling Labour Share," Working Papers 680, Queen Mary, University of London, School of Economics and Finance.
- Mattoo, Aaditya & Subramanian, Arvind, 2008.
"Multilateralism beyond Doha,"
Policy Research Working Paper Series
4735, The World Bank.
- Peltonen, Tuomas A. & Skala, Martin & Santos Rivera, Alvaro & Pula, Gabor, 2008. "Imports and profitability in the euro area manufacturing sector: the role of emerging market economies," Working Paper Series 0918, European Central Bank.
- Damiani, Mirella & Pompei, Fabrizio & Ricci, Andrea, 2012.
"Labour share and employment protection in European economies,"
43058, University Library of Munich, Germany.
- Mirella Damiani & Fabrizio Pompei & Andrea Ricci, 2012. "Labour Shares and Employment Protection in European Economies," Quaderni del Dipartimento di Economia, Finanza e Statistica 111/2012, Università di Perugia, Dipartimento Economia, Finanza e Statistica.
- Pérez Artica, Rodrigo & Brufman, Leandro & Martinez, Lisana, 2013.
"What are the causes of the growing trend of excess savings of the corporate sector in developed countries? An empirical analysis of three hypotheses,"
47410, University Library of Munich, Germany.
- Brufman, Leandro & Martinez, Lisana & Artica, Rodrigo Perez, 2013. "What are the causes of the growing trend of excess savings of the corporate sector in developed countries ? an empirical analysis of three hypotheses," Policy Research Working Paper Series 6571, The World Bank.
- Mariolis, Theodore & Tsoulfidis, Lefteris, 2010.
"Measures of production price-labour value deviation and income distribution in actual economies: theory and empirical evidence,"
43718, University Library of Munich, Germany.
- Theodore Mariolis & Lefteris Tsoulfidis, 2010. "Measures of Production price-labour value deviation and income distribution in actual economies: Theory and empirical evidence," Discussion Paper Series 2010_02, Department of Economics, University of Macedonia, revised Mar 2010.
- Thomas Goda, 2013. "Changes in income inequality from a global perspective: an overview," Working Papers PKWP1303, Post Keynesian Economics Study Group (PKSG).
- Luciano BOGGIO & Vincenzo DALL’AGLIO & Marco MAGNANI, 2010.
"On Labour Shares in Recent Decades: A Survey,"
Rivista Internazionale di Scienze Sociali,
Vita e Pensiero, Pubblicazioni dell'Universita' Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, vol. 118(3), pages 283-333.
- Luciano Boggio & Vincenzo Dall'Aglio & Marco Magnani, 2009. "On Labour Shares in Recent Decades: A Survey," DISCE - Quaderni dell'Istituto di Teoria Economica e Metodi Quantitativi itemq0957, Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, Dipartimenti e Istituti di Scienze Economiche (DISCE).
- Toshitaka Sekine, 2009.
"Another look at global disinflation,"
BIS Working Papers
283, Bank for International Settlements.
- Sekine, Toshitaka, 2009. "Another look at global disinflation," Journal of the Japanese and International Economies, Elsevier, vol. 23(2), pages 220-239, June.
- Toshitaka Sekine, 2009. "Another look at global disinflation," NBER Chapters, in: Financial Globalization, 20th Anniversary Conference, NBER-TCER-CEPR National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Mariolis, Theodore, 2010. "Κριτική Έκθεση του "Νόμου της Πτωτικής Τάσης του Ποσοστού Κέρδους" του K. Marx: Κατανομή Εισοδήματος, Επισώ�," MPRA Paper 22461, University Library of Munich, Germany.
- Mario Mansour & Michael Keen, 2009. "Revenue Mobilization in Sub-Saharan Africa: Challenges from Globalization," IMF Working Papers 09/157, International Monetary Fund.
- Guerriero, Marta & Sen, Kunal, 2012. "What Determines the Share of Labour in National Income? A Cross-Country Analysis," IZA Discussion Papers 6643, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Timo Laurmaa).
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.