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The Global Upward Trend in the Profit Share

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  • Luci Ellis
  • Kathryn Smith

Abstract

The profit share—the share of factor income going to capital—has trended upwards since about the mid 1980s in most developed economies. Not all of the possible explanations for this are consistent with the timing or the cross-country pattern of the data. Our preferred explanation is that technological progress has increased the rate of obsolescence of capital goods. This induces faster churn in both capital and jobs, which endogenously puts firms in a stronger bargaining position. The effect is larger where there is stronger labour and product market regulation.

Suggested Citation

  • 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.
  • Handle: RePEc:aeq:aeqaeq:v56_y2010_i2_q2_p231-256
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. 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.
    2. 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.
    3. 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.
    4. 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.
    5. 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.
    6. Douglas Gollin, 2002. "Getting Income Shares Right," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 110(2), pages 458-474, April.
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    profit share; wage share; technological progress; regulation;

    JEL classification:

    • 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

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