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The Wage-Productivity Gap Revisited: Is the Labour Share Neutral to Employment?

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  • Karanassou, Marika

    () (Queen Mary, University of London)

  • Sala, Hector

    () (Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona)

Abstract

This paper challenges the prevailing view of the neutrality of the labour income share to labour demand, and investigates its impact on the evolution of employment. Whilst maintaining the assumption of a unitary long-run elasticity of wages with respect to productivity, we demonstrate that productivity growth affects the labour share in the long run due to frictional growth (that is, the interplay of wage dynamics and productivity growth). In the light of this result, we consider a stylised labour demand equation and show that the labour share is a driving force of employment. We substantiate our analytical exposition by providing empirical models of wage setting and employment equations for France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Spain, the UK, and the US over the 1960-2008 period. Our findings show that the time-varying labour share of these countries has significantly influenced their employment trajectories across decades. This indicates that the evolution of the labour income share (or, equivalently, the wage-productivity gap) deserves the attention of policy makers.

Suggested Citation

  • Karanassou, Marika & Sala, Hector, 2010. "The Wage-Productivity Gap Revisited: Is the Labour Share Neutral to Employment?," IZA Discussion Papers 5092, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp5092
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Fabienne Llense, 2010. "French CEOs' Compensations: What is the Cost of a Mandatory Upper Limit?," CESifo Economic Studies, CESifo, vol. 56(2), pages 165-191, June.
    2. David G. Blanchflower & Andrew J. Oswald, 1995. "The Wage Curve," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 026202375x, January.
    3. Moriguchi, Chiaki, 2010. "Top wage incomes in Japan, 1951-2005," Journal of the Japanese and International Economies, Elsevier, vol. 24(3), pages 301-333, September.
    4. Timothy J. Hatton, 2007. "Can Productivity Growth Explain the NAIRU? Long-Run Evidence from Britain, 1871-1999," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 74(295), pages 475-491, August.
    5. A. Cohen & G. Harcourt., 2009. "Whatever Happened to the Cambridge Capital Theory Controversies?," VOPROSY ECONOMIKI, N.P. Redaktsiya zhurnala "Voprosy Economiki", vol. 8.
    6. Jordi Galí, 2011. "The Return Of The Wage Phillips Curve," Journal of the European Economic Association, European Economic Association, vol. 9(3), pages 436-461, June.
    7. Douglas Gollin, 2002. "Getting Income Shares Right," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 110(2), pages 458-474, April.
    8. Pissarides, Christopher A, 1991. "Real Wages and Unemployment in Australia," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 58(229), pages 35-55, February.
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    Cited by:

    1. Marika Karanassou & Hector Sala, 2012. "Inequality and Employment Sensitivities to the Falling Labour Share," The Economic and Social Review, Economic and Social Studies, vol. 43(3), pages 343-376.
    2. Pablo Agnese & Pablo Salvador, 2012. "More alike than different: the Spanish and Irish labour markets before and after the crisis," IZA Journal of European Labor Studies, Springer;Forschungsinstitut zur Zukunft der Arbeit GmbH (IZA), vol. 1(1), pages 1-24, December.
    3. Caiani, Alessandro & Russo, Alberto & Gallegati, Mauro, 2016. "Does Inequality Hamper Innovation and Growth?," MPRA Paper 71864, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    4. Dario JUDZIK & Hector SALA, 2013. "Productivity, deunionization and trade: Wage effects and labour share implications," International Labour Review, International Labour Organization, vol. 152(2), pages 205-236, June.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    wages; productivity; labour income share; employment;

    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
    • E25 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Aggregate Factor Income Distribution
    • O47 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Growth and Aggregate Productivity - - - Empirical Studies of Economic Growth; Aggregate Productivity; Cross-Country Output Convergence

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