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Dividing the Pie: the Determinants of Labor’s Share of Income on the Firm Level

This paper is the first to study the factors determining labor’s share of income on the level of the individual firm, employing an unusually informative panel data set. The empirical examination is concerned with Switzerland which stands out as one of the very few developed countries with a stable labor share. Broadly confirming results from previous cross-country and industry-level studies, we find that the main factor decreasing the labor share in the estimation period is the increase in the share of workers using ICT in the firm. The main reasons why Switzerland’s labor share remained almost constant are its relatively slow-rate of technological progress and shifts towards industries with above-average labor shares.

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Paper provided by KOF Swiss Economic Institute, ETH Zurich in its series KOF Working papers with number 14-352.

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Length: 48 pages
Date of creation: Feb 2014
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:kof:wpskof:14-352
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  1. Eric Verhoogen, 2007. "Trade, quality upgrading and wage inequality in the Mexican manufacturing sector," Discussion Papers 0607-08, Columbia University, Department of Economics.
  2. Guy Michaels & Ashwini Natraj & John Van Reenen, 2010. "Has ICT Polarized Skill Demand? Evidence from Eleven Countries over 25 Years," CEP Discussion Papers dp0987, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
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  19. Eve Caroli & John Van Reenen, 2001. "Skill-Biased Organizational Change? Evidence From A Panel Of British And French Establishments," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 116(4), pages 1449-1492, November.
  20. Timothy F. Bresnahan & Erik Brynjolfsson & Lorin M. Hitt, 1999. "Information Technology, Workplace Organization and the Demand for Skilled Labor: Firm-Level Evidence," NBER Working Papers 7136, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  21. John Hutchinson & Damiaan Persyn, 2011. "Globalisation, concentration and footloose firms: in search of the main cause of the declining labour share," Vives discussion paper series 18, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Faculteit Economie en Bedrijfswetenschappen, Vives.
  22. Loukas Karabarbounis & Brent Neiman, 2014. "The Global Decline of the Labor Share," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 129(1), pages 61-103.
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  25. M. Piva & E. Santarelli & M. Vivarelli, 2003. "The Skill Bias Effect of Technological and Organisational Change: Evidenceand Policy Implications," Working Papers 486, Dipartimento Scienze Economiche, Universita' di Bologna.
  26. Ghazala Azmat & Alan Manning & John Van Reenen, 2012. "Privatization and the Decline of Labour's Share: International Evidence from Network Industries," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 79(315), pages 470-492, 07.
  27. Vining, Aidan & Globerman, steven, 1999. "A conceptual framework for understanding the outsourcing decision," European Management Journal, Elsevier, vol. 17(6), pages 645-654, December.
  28. Lindbeck, Assar & Snower, Dennis J, 2000. "Multitask Learning and the Reorganization of Work: From Tayloristic to Holistic Organization," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 18(3), pages 353-76, July.
  29. A. B. Atkinson, 2009. "Factor shares: the principal problem of political economy?," Oxford Review of Economic Policy, Oxford University Press, vol. 25(1), pages 3-16, Spring.
  30. James Levinsohn & Amil Petrin, 2003. "Estimating Production Functions Using Inputs to Control for Unobservables," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 70(2), pages 317-341.
  31. Arjun Jayadev, 2007. "Capital account openness and the labour share of income," Cambridge Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 31(3), pages 423-443, May.
  32. Alain Serres & Stefano Scarpetta & Christine Maisonneuve, 2001. "Falling Wage Shares in Europe and the United States: How Important is Aggregation Bias?," Empirica, Springer, vol. 28(4), pages 375-401, December.
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