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What Determines the Share of Labour in National Income? A Cross-Country Analysis

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  • Guerriero, Marta

    () (University of Manchester)

  • Sen, Kunal

    () (University of Manchester)

Abstract

Recent evidence on functional income distribution suggests that the shares of capital and labour in national income vary considerably both over time and across countries. Specifically, there seems to be a general reduction in the labour share around the world, in particular from the mid-1980s onwards. Using fixed effects regression methods on a panel dataset covering 89 countries – both developing and developed – over the period 1970-2009, this study examines the mechanisms underlying the variability in the labour share. In particular, it focuses on the relationships between the labour share and measures of international trade and technological change. The results are robust across different specifications, for yearly data as well as 3- and 5-year averages, and after performing instrumental variable estimation. They suggest that trade openness and technological innovation have a positive and significant effect on the labour share. However, Foreign Direct Investments inflows and mechanisation seem to be negative drivers. Moreover, other factors, such as the level of economic development, education, and the strength of the regulations in the labour market, seem to also significantly influence functional distribution of income.

Suggested Citation

  • Guerriero, Marta & Sen, Kunal, 2012. "What Determines the Share of Labour in National Income? A Cross-Country Analysis," IZA Discussion Papers 6643, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp6643
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    Cited by:

    1. François Facchini & Mickael Melki & Andrew Pickering, 2017. "Labour Costs and the Size of Government," Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics, Department of Economics, University of Oxford, vol. 79(2), pages 251-275, April.
    2. Yeongjun Yeo & Sungmoon Jung & Jeong-Dong Lee & Won-Sik Hwang & Yeongjun Yeo, 2016. "Study on the effect of innovation on employment structure and economic growth: A computable general equilibrium approach," EcoMod2016 9524, EcoMod.
    3. Burak Ünveren & Seçkin Sunal, 2015. "Why is the Labor Share so Low in Turkey?," The Developing Economies, Institute of Developing Economies, vol. 53(4), pages 272-288, December.
    4. repec:tei:journl:v:10:y:2017:i:2:p:73-84 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. Trapp Katharina, 2015. "Measuring the Labour Income Share of Developing Countries: Learning From Social Accounting Matrices," WIDER Working Paper Series 041, World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).
    6. Christoph Schinke, 2014. "Government Ideology, Globalization, and Top Income Shares in OECD Countries," ifo Working Paper Series 181, ifo Institute - Leibniz Institute for Economic Research at the University of Munich.
    7. Musa Orak, 2017. "Capital-Task Complementarity and the Decline of the U.S. Labor Share of Income," International Finance Discussion Papers 1200, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
    8. D., Ivan, 2017. "Stability of the labour shares: evidence from OECD economies," MPRA Paper 79822, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    9. Florian Dorn & Christoph Schinke, 2018. "Top Income Shares in OECD Countries: The Role of Government Ideology and Globalization," ifo Working Paper Series 246, ifo Institute - Leibniz Institute for Economic Research at the University of Munich.
    10. Fukao, Kyoji & Perugini, Cristiano, 2018. "The Long-Run Dynamics of the Labour Share in Japan," Discussion Paper Series 672, Institute of Economic Research, Hitotsubashi University.
    11. Roberto Torrini, 2015. "Labour, Profit and Housing Rent Shares in Italian GDP: Long-Run Trends and Recent Patterns," Politica economica, Società editrice il Mulino, issue 3, pages 275-314.
    12. Doan, Ha Thi Thanh & Wan, Guanghua, 2017. "Globalization and the Labor Share in National Income," ADBI Working Papers 639, Asian Development Bank Institute.
    13. repec:eee:rujoec:v:3:y:2017:i:4:p:411-424 is not listed on IDEAS
    14. Jung, Sungmoon & Lee, Jeong-Dong & Hwang, Won-Sik & Yeo, Yeongjun, 2017. "Growth versus equity: A CGE analysis for effects of factor-biased technical progress on economic growth and employment," Economic Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 60(C), pages 424-438.
    15. repec:eee:ecosys:v:41:y:2017:i:4:p:492-512 is not listed on IDEAS

    More about this item

    Keywords

    labour share of income; functional income distribution; globalisation; technological progress;

    JEL classification:

    • E25 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Aggregate Factor Income Distribution
    • F16 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Trade and Labor Market Interactions
    • J30 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - General

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