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Predation, Labor Share and Development


  • Carlos Bethencourt
  • Fernando Perera-Tallo


This paper proposes a new mechanism based on the allocation of labor to help understand why differences among countries have remained stable. We formulate a neoclassical growth model in which agents devote time either to produce or to commit predation. Labor share is the key variable which determines in equilibrium the time devoted to each activity: an increase in the labor share raises the incentive to devote time to production and discourages predation. When the elasticity of substitution between labor and capital is lower than one, the labor share rises throughout the transition while the per capita capital is lower than the steady state level. This increase in the labor share reduces the incentive to predate and increases the incentive to work for production. Empirical evidence supports these results: low per capita income countries have larger portions of predation and present lower labor shares. The standard effects of an increase in the productivity are amplified by the indirect effects of productivity on the reallocation of labor from predation to production. Institutional improvements play a key role in reducing predation and increasing the level of per capita income.

Suggested Citation

  • Carlos Bethencourt & Fernando Perera-Tallo, 2011. "Predation, Labor Share and Development," DEGIT Conference Papers c016_039, DEGIT, Dynamics, Economic Growth, and International Trade.
  • Handle: RePEc:deg:conpap:c016_039

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Anderson, David A, 1999. "The Aggregate Burden of Crime," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 42(2), pages 611-642, October.
    2. Kevin M. Murphy & Andrei Shleifer & Robert W. Vishny, 1991. "The Allocation of Talent: Implications for Growth," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 106(2), pages 503-530.
    3. Sylvain Chassang & Gerard Padró i Miquel, 2010. "Savings and Predation," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 8(2-3), pages 645-654, 04-05.
    4. Harrison, Ann, 2005. "Has Globalization Eroded Labor’s Share? Some Cross-Country Evidence," MPRA Paper 39649, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    5. Rainer Klump & Peter McAdam & Alpo Willman, 2007. "Factor Substitution and Factor-Augmenting Technical Progress in the United States: A Normalized Supply-Side System Approach," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 89(1), pages 183-192, February.
    6. Bentolila Samuel & Saint-Paul Gilles, 2003. "Explaining Movements in the Labor Share," The B.E. Journal of Macroeconomics, De Gruyter, vol. 3(1), pages 1-33, October.
    7. Maarek, Paul, 2012. "Labor share, informal sector and development," MPRA Paper 38756, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    8. Herschel I. Grossman & Minseong Kim, 1996. "Inequality, Predation and Welfare," NBER Working Papers 5704, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    9. Juan Luis Londoño & Rodrigo Guerrero & Bernard Couttolene & Ignácio Cano & Leandro Piquet Carneiro & Luciana Phebo & Mauricio Rubio & José Miguel Cruz & Luis Armando González & Luis Ernesto Romano & E, 2000. "Asalto al desarrollo: Violencia en América Latina," IDB Publications (Books), Inter-American Development Bank, number 43498 edited by Juan Luis Londoño & Alejandro Gaviria & Rodrigo Guerrero, February.
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    Blog mentions

    As found by, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
    1. Predation, labor share and empirical evidence
      by Economic Logician in Economic Logic on 2012-05-21 19:20:00

    More about this item


    Predation; Rent-seeking; Labor share; Growth; Development;

    JEL classification:

    • O15 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Economic Development: Human Resources; Human Development; Income Distribution; Migration
    • O17 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Formal and Informal Sectors; Shadow Economy; Institutional Arrangements
    • O29 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Development Planning and Policy - - - Other
    • O30 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - General

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