IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/p/cep/cepdps/dp1246.html
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Decoupling of Wage Growth and Productivity Growth? Myth and Reality

Author

Abstract

It is widely believed that in the US wage growth has fallen massively behind productivity growth. Recently, it has also been suggested that the UK is starting to follow the same path. Analysts point to the much faster growth of GDP per hour than median wages. We distinguish between "net decoupling" - the difference in growth of GDP per hour deflated by the GDP deflator and average compensation deflated by the same index - and "gross decoupling" - the difference in growth of GDP per hour deflated by the GDP deflator and median wages deflated by a measure of consumer price inflation. We would expect that over the long-run real compensation growth deflated by the producer price (the labour costs that employers face) should track real labour productivity growth (value added per hour), so net decoupling should only occur if labour's share falls as a proportion of gross GDP, something that rarely happens over sustained periods. We show that over the past 40 years that there is almost no net decoupling in the UK, although there is evidence of substantial gross decoupling in the US and, to a lesser extent, in the UK. This difference between gross and net decoupling can be accounted for essentially three factors (i) compensation inequality (which means the average compensation is growing faster than the median compensation), (ii) the wedge between compensation (which includes employer-provided benefits like pensions and health insurance) and wages which do not and (iii) differences in the GDP deflator and the consumer price deflator (i.e. producer wages and consumption wages). These three factors explain basically ALL of the gross decoupling leaving only a small amount of "net decoupling". The first two factors are important in both countries, whereas the difference in price deflators is only important in the US.

Suggested Citation

  • Joao Paulo Pessoa & John Van Reenen, 2013. "Decoupling of Wage Growth and Productivity Growth? Myth and Reality," CEP Discussion Papers dp1246, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
  • Handle: RePEc:cep:cepdps:dp1246
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: http://cep.lse.ac.uk/pubs/download/dp1246.pdf
    Download Restriction: no

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Olivier Blanchard & Francesco Giavazzi, 2003. "Macroeconomic Effects of Regulation and Deregulation in Goods and Labor Markets," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 118(3), pages 879-907.
    2. Ian Dew-Becker & Robert J. Gordon, 2005. "Where Did the Productivity Growth Go? Inflation Dynamics and the Distribution of Income," NBER Working Papers 11842, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Alan B. Krueger, 1999. "Measuring Labor's Share," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(2), pages 45-51, May.
    4. Douglas Gollin, 2002. "Getting Income Shares Right," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 110(2), pages 458-474, April.
    5. Dean Baker, 2007. "The Productivity to Paycheck Gap: What the Data Show," CEPR Reports and Issue Briefs 2007-11, Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR).
    6. Paul Gomme & Peter Rupert, 2004. "Measuring labor’s share of income," Policy Discussion Papers, Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland, issue Nov.
    7. Ian Dew-Becker & Robert J. Gordon, 2005. "Where Did Productivity Growth Go? Inflation Dynamics and the Distribution of Income," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 36(2), pages 67-150.
    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. Mathieu Dufour & Özgür Orhangazi, 2016. "Growth and distribution after the 2007–2008 US financial crisis: who shouldered the burden of the crisis?," Review of Keynesian Economics, Edward Elgar Publishing, vol. 4(2), pages 151-174, April.
    2. Neil Lee & Paul Sissons, 2016. "Inclusive growth? The relationship between economic growth and poverty in British cities," Environment and Planning A, , vol. 48(11), pages 2317-2339, November.
    3. Bengtsson, Erik & Waldenström, Daniel, 2015. "Capital Shares and Income inequality: Evidence from the Long Run," IZA Discussion Papers 9581, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    4. Corry, Dan & Valero, Anna & Van Reenen, John, 2011. "UK economic performance since 1997: growth, productivity and jobs," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 47521, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    5. repec:sls:ipmsls:v:32:y:2017:2 is not listed on IDEAS
    6. Barnett, Alina & Batten, Sandra & Chiu, Adrian & Franklin, Jeremy & Sebastia-Barriel, Maria, 2014. "The UK productivity puzzle," Bank of England Quarterly Bulletin, Bank of England, vol. 54(2), pages 114-128.
    7. Areendam Chanda & Bibhudutta Panda, 2016. "Productivity Growth In Goods And Services Across The Heterogeneous States Of America," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 54(2), pages 1021-1045, April.
    8. Brian Nolan & Max Roser & Stefan Thewissen, 2016. "GDP Per Capita Versus Median Household Income: What Gives Rise to Divergence Over Time?," LIS Working papers 672, LIS Cross-National Data Center in Luxembourg.
    9. Erik Bengtsson & Daniel Waldenstršm, 2016. "Capital shares and income inequality: Evidence from the long run," Working Papers 0092, European Historical Economics Society (EHES).
    10. Bengtsson, Erik & Waldenström, Daniel, 2015. "Capital shares and income inequality: Evidence from the long run," CEPR Discussion Papers 11022, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Decoupling; Wages; Productivity; Compensation; Labour Income Share.;

    JEL classification:

    • E24 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Employment; Unemployment; Wages; Intergenerational Income Distribution; Aggregate Human Capital; Aggregate Labor Productivity
    • J20 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - General
    • J30 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - General

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:

    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:cep:cepdps:dp1246. 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://cep.lse.ac.uk/_new/publications/series.asp?prog=CEP .

    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 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.

    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.