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Declining Labor Shares and the Global Rise of Corporate Saving

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  • Loukas Karabarbounis
  • Brent Neiman

Abstract

The stability of the labor share is a key foundation in macroeconomic models. We document, however, that the global labor share has significantly declined over the last 30 years. This decline was associated with a significant increase in corporate saving, generally the largest component of national saving. We relate the labor share to corporate saving empirically and theoretically using a model featuring CES production and imperfections in the flow of funds between households and corporations. These two departures from the standard neoclassical model imply that the labor share fluctuates and that corporate saving affects macroeconomic allocations. We argue that it is important to study the labor share and corporate saving jointly, and offer a unified explanation for their trends. A global decline in the cost of capital beginning around 1980 induced firms to shift away from labor and toward capital, financed in part with an increase in corporate saving.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 18154.

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Date of creation: Jun 2012
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Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:18154

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  1. Francisco Rodriguez & Arjun Jayadev, 2010. "The Declining Labor Share of Income," Human Development Research Papers (2009 to present) HDRP-2010-36, Human Development Report Office (HDRO), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
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  3. Chang-Tai Hsieh & Jonathan A. Parker, 2007. "Taxes and Growth in a Financially Underdevelopped Country: Evidence from the Chilean Investment Boom," JOURNAL OF LACEA ECONOMIA, LACEA - LATIN AMERICAN AND CARIBBEAN ECONOMIC ASSOCIATION.
  4. Tamim Bayoumi & Hui Tong & Shang-Jin Wei, 2010. "The Chinese Corporate Savings Puzzle: A Firm-level Cross-country Perspective," NBER Working Papers 16432, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Auerbach, Alan J, 1979. "Wealth Maximization and the Cost of Capital," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 93(3), pages 433-46, August.
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Cited by:
  1. Loukas Karabarbounis & Brent Neiman, 2013. "The Global Decline of the Labor Share," NBER Working Papers 19136, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Yong Wang & Xuewen Liu & Xi Li, 2013. "A Model of China's State Capitalism," 2013 Meeting Papers 853, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  3. Horioka, Charles Yuji & Terada-Hagiwara, Akiko, 2013. "Corporate Cash Holding in Asia," ADB Economics Working Paper Series 381, Asian Development Bank.
  4. Coppola, Andrea & Fernholz, Fernando & Glenday, Graham, 2014. "Estimating the economic opportunity cost of capital for public investment projects : an empirical analysis of the Mexican case," Policy Research Working Paper Series 6816, The World Bank.
  5. Stephane Guibaud & Keyu Jin & Nicolas Coeurdacier, 2011. "Credit Constraints and Growth in a Global Economy," 2011 Meeting Papers 1040, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  6. jae sim & Dalida Kadyrzhanova & Antonio Falato, 2013. "Rising Intangible Capital, Shrinking Debt Capacity, and the US Corporate Savings Glut," 2013 Meeting Papers 1151, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  7. J. Stephen Ferris, 2012. "The Relationship Between Government Size and Economic Performance with Particular Application to New Zealand," Carleton Economic Papers 12-06, Carleton University, Department of Economics, revised 25 Apr 2013.

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