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The global decline in the labour income share: is capital the answer to Germany’s current account surplus?

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  • Bennet Berger
  • Guntram B. Wolff

Abstract

This paper links the major divergences between the three largest euro-area countries in terms of unit labour costs and current accounts, to the broader debate on labour income shares. The authors show that Germany, like the United States and Japan, has experienced a significant decline in the share of national income that goes to labour. At the same time, labour shares in France and Italy have increased since the beginning of monetary union, breaking a trend that had persisted for several decades. The capital intensity of production has increased much more significantly in France and Italy, while in Germany the capital-to-GDP ratio has stagnated and the net public capital stock has fallen. Our data suggests that capital and labour have been complements.

Suggested Citation

  • Bennet Berger & Guntram B. Wolff, 2017. "The global decline in the labour income share: is capital the answer to Germany’s current account surplus?," Policy Contributions 20285, Bruegel.
  • Handle: RePEc:bre:polcon:20285
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    File URL: http://bruegel.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/04/PC-12-2017-1.pdf
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    1. Sanvi Avouyi-Dovi & Denis Fougère & Erwan Gautier, 2013. "Wage Rigidity, Collective Bargaining, and the Minimum Wage: Evidence from French Agreement Data," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 95(4), pages 1337-1351, October.
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    Cited by:

    1. Thorsten Klug & Eric Mayer & Tobias Schuler, 2018. "The Corporate Saving Glut and the Current Account in Germany," ifo Working Paper Series 280, ifo Institute - Leibniz Institute for Economic Research at the University of Munich.
    2. Damiani, Mirella & Pompei, Fabrizio & Andrea, Ricci, 2018. "Labour shares, employment protection and unions in European economies," MPRA Paper 91300, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    3. Ivan D. TROFIMOV & Nazaria Md. ARIS & Muhammad Khairil Firdaus Bin ROSLI, 2018. "Macroeconomic determinants of the labour share of income: Evidence from OECD economies," Theoretical and Applied Economics, Asociatia Generala a Economistilor din Romania - AGER, vol. 0(3(616), A), pages 25-48, Autumn.
    4. Braun, Benjamin & Deeg, Richard, 2019. "Strong firms, weak banks: The financial consequences of Germany's export-led growth model," MPIfG Discussion Paper 19/5, Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies.

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