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Will The “True” Labor Share Stand Up? An Applied Survey On Labor Share Measures

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  • Jakub Mućk
  • Peter McAdam
  • Jakub Growiec

Abstract

Labor's share of income is a key variable in economics. It plays a leading role in analysis of (in)equality, globalization, technical change, growth theories, etc. Notwithstanding this broad application, there are many different definitions of the labor share. Understanding and synthesizing those differences is the purpose of this applied survey. Empirical measures may vary reflecting the allocation of income components that cannot be directly ascribed to capital or labor. We examine the alternative assumptions made in the literature in this regard and quantify and motivate the resulting discrepancies. Focusing (mostly) on US data, we show that different measures can have very distinct properties in terms of the observed stochastic trends, shares of short‐, medium‐, and long‐run variation and volatilities, persistence and mean‐reversion properties, and susceptibility to structural breaks. For instance, while “short‐run” properties of the surveyed labor share measures are relatively consistent across all definitions (and countercyclical), their “medium‐” and “long‐run” trends may diverge substantially (and are procyclical). To substantiate our analysis, we document the implications of discrepancies in the empirical labor share definition for growth accounting, analyzing the effect of technology shocks, and for estimating inflation dynamics.

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  • Jakub Mućk & Peter McAdam & Jakub Growiec, 2018. "Will The “True” Labor Share Stand Up? An Applied Survey On Labor Share Measures," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 32(4), pages 961-984, September.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:jecsur:v:32:y:2018:i:4:p:961-984
    DOI: 10.1111/joes.12252
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    2. Growiec, Jakub & Mućk, Jakub, 2020. "Isoelastic Elasticity Of Substitution Production Functions," Macroeconomic Dynamics, Cambridge University Press, vol. 24(7), pages 1597-1634, October.
    3. Hernando Zuleta, 2015. "Getting Growth Accounting Right," Documentos CEDE 013814, Universidad de los Andes - CEDE.
    4. Brad Sturgill & Hernando Zuleta, 2016. "Variable Factor Shares and the Index Number Problem: A Generalization," Documentos CEDE 015038, Universidad de los Andes - CEDE.
    5. Jakub Mućk, 2017. "Elasticity of substitution between labor and capital: robust evidence from developed economies," NBP Working Papers 271, Narodowy Bank Polski, Economic Research Department.
    6. McAdam, Peter & Willman, Alpo, 2018. "Unraveling The Skill Premium," Macroeconomic Dynamics, Cambridge University Press, vol. 22(1), pages 33-62, January.
    7. Cantore, Cristiano & Freund, Lukas B., 2021. "Workers, capitalists, and the government: fiscal policy and income (re)distribution," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 119(C), pages 58-74.
    8. Marta Guerriero, 2019. "The Labor Share of Income Around the World: Evidence from a Panel Dataset," ADB Institute Series on Development Economics, in: Gary Fields & Saumik Paul (ed.), Labor Income Share in Asia, chapter 0, pages 39-79, Springer.
    9. Cantore, Cristiano & Levine, Paul & Pearlman, Joseph & Yang, Bo, 2015. "CES technology and business cycle fluctuations," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 61(C), pages 133-151.
    10. Jose Barrales-Ruiz, Ivan Mendieta-Muñoz, Codrina Rada, Daniele Tavani, Rudiger von Arnim, 2020. "The distributive cycle: Evidence and current debates," Working Paper Series, Department of Economics, University of Utah 2020_07, University of Utah, Department of Economics.
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    12. Cantore, Cristiano & Ferroni, Filippo & León-Ledesma, Miguel A., 2018. "The missing link: monetary policy and the labor share," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 90873, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    13. Jakub Growiec & Peter McAdam & Jakub Muck, 2018. "On the Optimal Labor Income Share," Working Papers 2018-031, Warsaw School of Economics, Collegium of Economic Analysis.
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    JEL classification:

    • C82 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Data Collection and Data Estimation Methodology; Computer Programs - - - Methodology for Collecting, Estimating, and Organizing Macroeconomic Data; Data Access
    • E25 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Aggregate Factor Income Distribution
    • E32 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Prices, Business Fluctuations, and Cycles - - - Business Fluctuations; Cycles

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