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Concentrating on the Fall of the Labor Share

Author

Listed:
  • David Autor
  • David Dorn
  • Lawrence F. Katz
  • Christina Patterson
  • John Van Reenen

Abstract

The recent fall of labor's share of GDP in numerous countries is well-documented, but its causes are poorly understood. We sketch a "superstar firm" model where industries are increasingly characterized by "winner take most" competition, leading a small number of highly profitable (and low labor share) firms to command growing market share. Building on Autor et al. (2017), we evaluate and confirm two core claims of the superstar firm hypothesis: the concentration of sales among firms within industries has risen across much of the private sector; and industries with larger increases in concentration exhibit a larger decline in labor's share.

Suggested Citation

  • David Autor & David Dorn & Lawrence F. Katz & Christina Patterson & John Van Reenen, 2017. "Concentrating on the Fall of the Labor Share," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 107(5), pages 180-185, May.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:aecrev:v:107:y:2017:i:5:p:180-85
    Note: DOI: 10.1257/aer.p20171102
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Yu Zheng & Raul Santaeulalia & Dongya Koh, 2015. "Labor Share Decline and the Capitalization of Intellectual Property Products," 2015 Meeting Papers 844, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    2. Robert Z. Lawrence, 2015. "Recent Declines in Labor's Share in US Income: A Preliminary Neoclassical Account," NBER Working Papers 21296, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Lawrence Robert Z., 2015. "Recent Declines in Labor's Share in U.S. Income: A Preliminary Neoclassical Account," Working Paper Series rwp15-034, Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Caballero, Ricardo & Farhi, Emmanuel & Gourinchas, Pierre-Olivier, 2017. "Rents, Technical Change, and Risk Premia: Accounting for Secular Trends in Interest Rates, Returns to Capital, Earnings Yields, and Factor Shares," CEPR Discussion Papers 11833, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    2. Bastani, Spencer & Waldenström, Daniel, 2018. "How Should Capital Be Taxed? Theory and Evidence from Sweden," IZA Discussion Papers 11475, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    3. Ricardo J. Caballero & Emmanuel Farhi & Pierre-Olivier Gourinchas, 2017. "Rents, Technical Change, and Risk Premia Accounting for Secular Trends in Interest Rates, Returns on Capital, Earning Yields, and Factor Shares," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 107(5), pages 614-620, May.
    4. David Autor & David Dorn & Lawrence F. Katz & Christina Patterson & John Van Reenen, 2017. "The Fall of the Labor Share and the Rise of Superstar Firms," CEP Discussion Papers dp1482, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
    5. Maier, Michael F. & Viete, Steffen & Ody, Margard, 2017. "Plattformbasierte Erwerbsarbeit: Stand der empirischen Forschung," IZA Research Reports 81, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    6. Tommaso Ciarli & Alberto Marzucchi & Edgar Salgado & Maria Savona, 2018. "The Effect of R&D Growth on Employment and Self-Employment in Local Labour Markets," SPRU Working Paper Series 2018-08, SPRU - Science and Technology Policy Research, University of Sussex.
    7. Das, Tirthatanmoy & Polachek, Solomon, 2017. "Micro Foundations of Earnings Differences," IZA Discussion Papers 10922, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    8. Florian Botte & Laurent Cordonnier & Thomas Dallery & Vincent Duwicquet & Jordan Melmies & Franck Van de Velde, 2017. "The cost of capital: between losses and diversion of wealth
      [Le coût du capital : entre pertes et détournement de richesses]
      ," Working Papers hal-01711157, HAL.
    9. Clemens Struck & Adnan Velic, 2017. "Automation, New Technology, and Non-Homothetic Preferences," Trinity Economics Papers tep1217, Trinity College Dublin, Department of Economics.
    10. repec:cje:issued:v:50:y:2017:i:5:p:1414-1444 is not listed on IDEAS
    11. repec:nbr:nberch:14012 is not listed on IDEAS
    12. Keith Head & Barbara J. Spencer, 2017. "Oligopoly in international trade: Rise, fall and resurgence," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 50(5), pages 1414-1444, December.
    13. Stefano Schiavo & Lionel Nesta, 2017. "International Competition and Rent Sharing in French Manufacturing," DEM Working Papers 2017/07, Department of Economics and Management.
    14. Georges Vivien Houngbonon & Pascal Da Costa, 2017. "Declining Labor Share and Innovation," Working Papers hal-01653816, HAL.
    15. Guschanski, Alexander & Onaran, Özlem, 2017. "The political economy of income distribution: industry level evidence from 14 OECD countries," Greenwich Papers in Political Economy 17518, University of Greenwich, Greenwich Political Economy Research Centre.
    16. Giuseppe Berlingieri & Patrick Blanchenay & Chiara Criscuolo, 2017. "The Great Divergence(s)," CEP Discussion Papers dp1488, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
    17. repec:fip:fedfel:00145 is not listed on IDEAS
    18. Avi Goldfarb & Daniel Trefler, 2018. "AI and International Trade," NBER Chapters,in: The Economics of Artificial Intelligence: An Agenda National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D22 - Microeconomics - - Production and Organizations - - - Firm Behavior: Empirical Analysis
    • D33 - Microeconomics - - Distribution - - - Factor Income Distribution
    • E23 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Production
    • E25 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Aggregate Factor Income Distribution
    • L13 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance - - - Oligopoly and Other Imperfect Markets
    • L25 - Industrial Organization - - Firm Objectives, Organization, and Behavior - - - Firm Performance

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