IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/a/taf/sehrxx/v62y2014i3p290-314.html
   My bibliography  Save this article

Labour's share in twentieth-century Sweden: a reinterpretation

Author

Listed:
  • Erik Bengtsson

Abstract

The distribution of national income between capital and labour is a classical theme in political economy. This paper takes a long-run perspective to the issue and asks two questions: How did the distribution of income between capital and labour develop in Sweden from 1900 to 2000? And how can this development best be explained? It is shown that labour's share in Sweden in the 100 years from 1900 to 2000 saw three important shifts, and the three shifts are analyzed. Around 1920, there was a surge in labour's share as workers mobilised in trade unions and universal suffrage and the eight-hour working day in manufacturing strengthened the bargaining power of workers. From 1950 until the late 1970s, there was another period of an increasing labour share, when the welfare state expanded and trade unions were strong. Contra the well-known postwar wage moderation analysis, there was no wage moderation in Sweden during the 1950s and 1960s, but rather the opposite: wages increased faster than productivity which caused a redistribution from capital to labour and reduced income inequality. The third shift occurred around 1980 when labour's share started a continuous decrease, beginning with several devaluations intended to increase profitability and competitiveness of Swedish business.

Suggested Citation

  • Erik Bengtsson, 2014. "Labour's share in twentieth-century Sweden: a reinterpretation," Scandinavian Economic History Review, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 62(3), pages 290-314, November.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:sehrxx:v:62:y:2014:i:3:p:290-314
    DOI: 10.1080/03585522.2014.932837
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10.1080/03585522.2014.932837
    Download Restriction: Access to full text is restricted to subscribers.

    File URL: https://libkey.io/10.1080/03585522.2014.932837?utm_source=ideas
    LibKey link: if access is restricted and if your library uses this service, LibKey will redirect you to where you can use your library subscription to access this item
    ---><---

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to search for a different version of it.

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. David G. Blanchflower & Andrew J. Oswald, 1995. "The Wage Curve," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 026202375x.
    2. Alexopoulos, Michelle & Cohen, Jon, 2003. "Centralised wage bargaining and structural change in Sweden," European Review of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 7(3), pages 331-363, December.
    3. Zeileis, Achim & Leisch, Friedrich & Hornik, Kurt & Kleiber, Christian, 2002. "strucchange: An R Package for Testing for Structural Change in Linear Regression Models," Journal of Statistical Software, Foundation for Open Access Statistics, vol. 7(i02).
    4. Anthony B. Atkinson & Thomas Piketty & Emmanuel Saez, 2011. "Top Incomes in the Long Run of History," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 49(1), pages 3-71, March.
    5. Jesper Roine & Daniel Waldenström, 2009. "Wealth Concentration over the Path of Development: Sweden, 1873–2006," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 111(1), pages 151-187, March.
    6. A. B. Atkinson, 2009. "Factor shares: the principal problem of political economy?," Oxford Review of Economic Policy, Oxford University Press, vol. 25(1), pages 3-16, Spring.
    7. Bental, Benjamin & Demougin, Dominique, 2008. "Do factor shares reflect technology?," Journal of Macroeconomics, Elsevier, vol. 30(3), pages 1329-1334, September.
    8. Daron Acemoglu & James A. Robinson, 2000. "Why Did the West Extend the Franchise? Democracy, Inequality, and Growth in Historical Perspective," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 115(4), pages 1167-1199.
    9. Henry Ohlsson & Jesper Roine & Daniel Waldenstrom, 2006. "Long-Run Changes in the Concentration of Wealth: An Overview of Recent Findings," WIDER Working Paper Series RP2006-103, World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).
    10. Roine, Jesper & Waldenstrom, Daniel, 2008. "The evolution of top incomes in an egalitarian society: Sweden, 1903-2004," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 92(1-2), pages 366-387, February.
    11. Alvarez, R. Michael & Garrett, Geoffrey & Lange, Peter, 1991. "Government Partisanship, Labor Organization, and Macroeconomic Performance," American Political Science Review, Cambridge University Press, vol. 85(2), pages 539-556, June.
    12. McCallum, John, 1985. " Wage Gaps, Factor Shares and Real Wages," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 87(2), pages 436-459.
    13. Erling Barth & Henning Finseraas & Karl O. Moene, 2015. "Political Reinforcement: How Rising Inequality Curbs Manifested Welfare Generosity," American Journal of Political Science, John Wiley & Sons, vol. 59(3), pages 565-577, July.
    14. Broadberry,Stephen & O'Rourke,Kevin H., 2010. "The Cambridge Economic History of Modern Europe," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521708395.
    15. Oliver J. Blanchard, 1997. "The Medium Run," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 28(2), pages 89-158.
    16. Eichengreen, Barry, 1994. "Institutional prerequisites for economic growth: Europe after World War II," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 38(3-4), pages 883-890, April.
    17. Glyn, The Late Andrew, 2007. "Capitalism Unleashed: Finance, Globalization, and Welfare," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780199226795.
    18. Erling Barth & Karl O. Moene, 2009. "The Equality Multiplier," NBER Working Papers 15076, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    19. Rudd, Jeremy & Whelan, Karl, 2005. "Does Labor's Share Drive Inflation?," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 37(2), pages 297-312, April.
    20. Richard B. Freeman & Birgitta Swedenborg & Robert Topel, 2010. "Reforming the Welfare State: Recovery and Beyond in Sweden," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number free05-1.
    21. Rebecca Ann Freeman, 2011. "Accounting for the Self-Employed in Labour Share Estimates: The Case of the United States," OECD Science, Technology and Industry Working Papers 2011/4, OECD Publishing.
    22. Frankema, Ewout, 2010. "Reconstructing labor income shares in Argentina, Brazil and Mexico, 1870-2000," Revista de Historia Económica / Journal of Iberian and Latin American Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 28(2), pages 343-374, September.
    23. Bruce E. Hansen, 2001. "The New Econometrics of Structural Change: Dating Breaks in U.S. Labour Productivity," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 15(4), pages 117-128, Fall.
    24. Glyn, Andrew, 1997. "Does Aggregate Profitability Really Matter?," Cambridge Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 21(5), pages 593-619, September.
    25. Erik Bengtsson, 2015. "Wage restraint in Scandinavia: during the postwar period or the neoliberal age?," European Review of Economic History, Oxford University Press, vol. 19(4), pages 359-381.
    26. Freeman, Richard B. & Swedenborg, Birgitta & Topel, Robert H. (ed.), 2010. "Reforming the Welfare State," National Bureau of Economic Research Books, University of Chicago Press, number 9780226261928, March.
    27. Gustafsson, Björn & Johansson, Mats, 2003. "Steps toward equality: How and why income inequality in urban Sweden changed during the period 1925–1958," European Review of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 7(2), pages 191-211, August.
    28. Andrea Bassanini & Thomas Manfredi, 2012. "Capital's Grabbing Hand? A Cross-Country/Cross-Industry Analysis of the Decline of the Labour Share," OECD Social, Employment and Migration Working Papers 133, OECD Publishing.
    29. Margaret M. Jacobson & Filippo Occhino, 2012. "Labor's declining share of income and rising inequality," Economic Commentary, Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland, issue Sept.
    30. Bergh, Andreas, 2011. "The Rise, Fall and Revival of a Capitalist Welfare State: What are the Policy Lessons from Sweden," Working Paper Series 873, Research Institute of Industrial Economics.
    31. Rolf Aaberge & Anthony B. Atkinson, 2008. "Top Incomes in Norway," Discussion Papers 552, Statistics Norway, Research Department.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Citations

    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.
    as


    Cited by:

    1. Giacomo Gabbuti, 2018. "Labour Shares and Income Inequality: Insights from Italian Economic History, 1895-2015," HHB Working Papers Series 13, The Historical Household Budgets Project.
    2. Roberto Iacono & Elisa Palagi, 2020. "Still the lands of equality? On the heterogeneity of individual factor income shares in the Nordics," LEM Papers Series 2020/13, Laboratory of Economics and Management (LEM), Sant'Anna School of Advanced Studies, Pisa, Italy.
    3. Molinder, Jakob, 2019. "Why Was Unemployment so Low in Postwar Sweden? An Analysis with New Unemployment Data by Manufacturing Industry, 1935-1948," Lund Papers in Economic History 201, Lund University, Department of Economic History.
    4. Jakub Growiec & Peter McAdam & Jakub Mućk, 2021. "On the Optimal Labor Income Share," International Journal of Central Banking, International Journal of Central Banking, vol. 17(70), pages 1-52, October.
    5. Bengtsson, Erik & Waldenström, Daniel, 2018. "Capital Shares and Income Inequality: Evidence from the Long Run," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 78(3), pages 712-743, September.
    6. Bengtsson, Erik, 2016. "Inequality and the working class in Scandinavia 1800 to 1910 - Workers' share of growing income," Lund Papers in Economic History 142, Lund University, Department of Economic History.
    7. D., Ivan, 2017. "Stability of the labour shares: evidence from OECD economies," MPRA Paper 79822, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    8. Andrea Coveri & Mario Pianta, 2019. "The Structural Dynamics of Income Distribution:Technology, Wages and Profits," Working Papers 1901, University of Urbino Carlo Bo, Department of Economics, Society & Politics - Scientific Committee - L. Stefanini & G. Travaglini, revised 2019.
    9. Bengtsson, Erik, 2019. "The Origins of the Swedish Wage Bargaining Model," Lund Papers in Economic History 195, Lund University, Department of Economic History.
    10. Giorgos Gouzoulis, 2021. "Finance, Discipline and the Labour Share in the Long‐Run: France (1911–2010) and Sweden (1891–2000)," British Journal of Industrial Relations, London School of Economics, vol. 59(2), pages 568-594, June.
    11. Trofimov, Ivan D., 2018. "The secular decline in profit rates: time series analysis of a classical hypothesis," MPRA Paper 88248, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    12. Bengtsson, Erik & Prado, Svante, 2019. "The rise of the middle class: The income gap between salaried employees and workers in Sweden, 1830-1935," Lund Papers in Economic History 186, Lund University, Department of Economic History.

    Most related items

    These are the items that most often cite the same works as this one and are cited by the same works as this one.
    1. Ohlsson, Henry & Roine, Jesper & Waldenström, Daniel, 2014. "Inherited Wealth over the Path of Development: Sweden, 1810–2010," Working Paper Series 1033, Research Institute of Industrial Economics.
    2. Annette Alstadsæter & Niels Johannesen & Gabriel Zucman, 2019. "Tax Evasion and Inequality," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 109(6), pages 2073-2103, June.
    3. Jukka Pirttilä & Håkan Selin, 2011. "Tax Policy and Employment: How Does the Swedish System Fare," Working Papers 267, Työn ja talouden tutkimus LABORE, The Labour Institute for Economic Research LABORE.
    4. A. B. Atkinson & J. E. Søgaard, 2013. "The long-run history of income inequality in Denmark: Top incomes from 1870 to 2010," EPRU Working Paper Series 2013-01, Economic Policy Research Unit (EPRU), University of Copenhagen. Department of Economics.
    5. Bengtsson, Erik & Waldenström, Daniel, 2018. "Capital Shares and Income Inequality: Evidence from the Long Run," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 78(3), pages 712-743, September.
    6. Molinder, Jakob, 2019. "Why Was Unemployment so Low in Postwar Sweden? An Analysis with New Unemployment Data by Manufacturing Industry, 1935-1948," Lund Papers in Economic History 201, Lund University, Department of Economic History.
    7. Eric Bengtsson & Engelbert Stockhammer, 2018. "Wages, income distribution and economic growth in Scandinavia," Working Papers PKWP1811, Post Keynesian Economics Society (PKES).
    8. Salvatore Morelli & Timothy Smeeding & Jeffrey Thompson, 2014. "Post-1970 Trends in Within-Country Inequality and Poverty: Rich and Middle Income Countries," CSEF Working Papers 356, Centre for Studies in Economics and Finance (CSEF), University of Naples, Italy.
    9. John D. Turner, 2010. "Wealth concentration in the European periphery: Ireland, 1858--2001," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 62(4), pages 625-646, October.
    10. Jesper Roine & Daniel Waldenström, 2012. "On The Role Of Capital Gains In Swedish Income Inequality," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 58(3), pages 569-587, September.
    11. Erik Bengtsson, 2014. "Do unions redistribute income from capital to labour? Union density and wage shares since 1960," Industrial Relations Journal, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 45(5), pages 389-408, September.
    12. Andreas Peichl & Nico Pestel, 2013. "Multidimensional affluence: theory and applications to Germany and the US," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 45(32), pages 4591-4601, November.
    13. Bartels, Charlotte & Waldenström, Daniel, 2021. "Inequality and top incomes," GLO Discussion Paper Series 959, Global Labor Organization (GLO).
    14. Gabriel Zucman, 2013. "The Missing Wealth of Nations: Are Europe and the U.S. net Debtors or net Creditors?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 128(3), pages 1321-1364.
    15. Björklund, Anders & Roine, Jesper & Waldenström, Daniel, 2012. "Intergenerational top income mobility in Sweden: Capitalist dynasties in the land of equal opportunity?," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 96(5), pages 474-484.
    16. Roberto Iacono & Elisa Palagi, 2020. "Still the lands of equality? On the heterogeneity of individual factor income shares in the Nordics," LEM Papers Series 2020/13, Laboratory of Economics and Management (LEM), Sant'Anna School of Advanced Studies, Pisa, Italy.
    17. Olivier Giovannoni, 2014. "What Do We Know About the Labor Share and the Profit Share? Part III: Measures and Structural Factors," Economics Working Paper Archive wp_805, Levy Economics Institute.
    18. T. Gries & R. Grundmann & I. Palnau & M. Redlin, 2017. "Innovations, growth and participation in advanced economies - a review of major concepts and findings," International Economics and Economic Policy, Springer, vol. 14(2), pages 293-351, April.
    19. Björklund, Anders & Roine, Jesper & Waldenström, Daniel, 2008. "Intergenerational top income mobility in Sweden – A combination of equal opportunity and capitalistic dynasties," SSE/EFI Working Paper Series in Economics and Finance 705, Stockholm School of Economics.
    20. Anna & Leonardo Weller, 2018. "Was Cold War A Constraint To Income Inequality?," Anais do XLIV Encontro Nacional de Economia [Proceedings of the 44th Brazilian Economics Meeting] 94, ANPEC - Associação Nacional dos Centros de Pós-Graduação em Economia [Brazilian Association of Graduate Programs in Economics].

    More about this item

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:taf:sehrxx:v:62:y:2014:i:3:p:290-314. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: . General contact details of provider: http://www.tandfonline.com/sehr20 .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a bibliographic reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: Chris Longhurst (email available below). General contact details of provider: http://www.tandfonline.com/sehr20 .

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.