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Declining Labor Shares and the Global Rise of Corporate Saving

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  • Loukas Karabarbounis
  • Brent Neiman

Abstract

The stability of the labor share is a key foundation in macroeconomic models. We document, however, that the global labor share has significantly declined over the last 30 years. This decline was associated with a significant increase in corporate saving, generally the largest component of national saving. We relate the labor share to corporate saving empirically and theoretically using a model featuring CES production and imperfections in the flow of funds between households and corporations. These two departures from the standard neoclassical model imply that the labor share fluctuates and that corporate saving affects macroeconomic allocations. We argue that it is important to study the labor share and corporate saving jointly, and offer a unified explanation for their trends. A global decline in the cost of capital beginning around 1980 induced firms to shift away from labor and toward capital, financed in part with an increase in corporate saving.

Suggested Citation

  • Loukas Karabarbounis & Brent Neiman, 2012. "Declining Labor Shares and the Global Rise of Corporate Saving," NBER Working Papers 18154, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:18154 Note: CF EFG IFM
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Brent Neiman, 2014. "The Global Decline of the Labor Share," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 129(1), pages 61-103.
    2. Coppola, Andrea & Fernholz, Fernando & Glenday, Graham, 2014. "Estimating the economic opportunity cost of capital for public investment projects : an empirical analysis of the Mexican case," Policy Research Working Paper Series 6816, The World Bank.
    3. Orsetta Causa & Alain de Serres & Nicolas Ruiz, 2015. "Can pro-growth policies lift all boats?: An analysis based on household disposable income," OECD Journal: Economic Studies, OECD Publishing, vol. 2015(1), pages 227-268.
    4. Antonio Falato & Dalida Kadyrzhanova & Jae W. Sim, 2013. "Rising intangible capital, shrinking debt capacity, and the US corporate savings glut," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2013-67, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
    5. Zsofia Barany & Nicolas Coeurdacier & Stéphane Guibaud, 2015. "Fertility, Longevity and International Capital Flows," Sciences Po publications info:hdl:2441/5402sfihji9, Sciences Po.
    6. Yong Wang & Xuewen Liu & Xi Li, 2013. "A Model of China's State Capitalism," 2013 Meeting Papers 853, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    7. Robert Kollmann & Marco Ratto & Werner Roeger & Jan in't Veld & Lukas Vogel, 2015. "What drives the German current account? And how does it affect other EU Member States?," Economic Policy, CEPR;CES;MSH, vol. 30(81), pages 47-93.
    8. Chadwick C. Curtis & Steven Lugauer & Nelson C. Mark, 2015. "Demographic Patterns and Household Saving in China," American Economic Journal: Macroeconomics, American Economic Association, pages 58-94.
    9. Stephane Guibaud & Keyu Jin & Nicolas Coeurdacier, 2011. "Credit Constraints and Growth in a Global Economy," 2011 Meeting Papers 1040, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    10. Alessandro Galesi & Galo Nuño & Carlos Thomas, 2017. "The natural interest rate: concept, determinants and implications for monetary policy," Economic Bulletin, Banco de España;Economic Bulletin Homepage, issue 1/2017.
    11. Philippe BACCHETTA & Kenza BENHIMA & Céline POILLY, "undated". "Corporate Cash and Employment," Swiss Finance Institute Research Paper Series 14-01, Swiss Finance Institute.
    12. Ricardo Bebczuk & Eduardo Cavallo, 2016. "Is business saving really none of our business?," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 48(24), pages 2266-2284, May.
    13. Charles Yuji Horioka & Akiko Terada-Hagiwara, 2014. "Corporate Cash Holding in Asia," Asian Economic Journal, East Asian Economic Association, vol. 28(4), pages 323-345, December.
    14. Hamza Demircan & Sumru Oz, 2017. "Saving Behavior of Non-Financial Firms in Turkey," Koç University-TUSIAD Economic Research Forum Working Papers 1720, Koc University-TUSIAD Economic Research Forum.
    15. Onaran, Özlem & Guschanski, Alexander, 2016. "The political economy of income distribution: industry level evidence from Austria," Greenwich Papers in Political Economy 15865, University of Greenwich, Greenwich Political Economy Research Centre.
    16. Nicolas Coeurdacier, 2016. "Fertility, Longevity, and Capital Flows," 2016 Meeting Papers 442, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    17. Coeurdacier, Nicolas & Guibaud, Stéphane & Jin, Keyu, 2015. "Credit constraints and growth in a global economy," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 62016, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    18. repec:eee:moneco:v:87:y:2017:i:c:p:13-33 is not listed on IDEAS
    19. J. Stephen Ferris, 2012. "The Relationship Between Government Size and Economic Performance with Particular Application to New Zealand," Carleton Economic Papers 12-06, Carleton University, Department of Economics, revised 25 Apr 2013.
    20. Ricardo N. Bebczuk & Eduardo A. Cavallo, 2014. "Is Business Saving Really None of Our Business?," IDB Publications (Working Papers) 6554, Inter-American Development Bank.
    21. Boeri, Tito & Garibaldi, Pietro & Moen, Espen R, 2014. "Financial Constraints in Search Equilibrium," CEPR Discussion Papers 10266, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    22. repec:bde:journl:y:2017:i:3:d:aa:n:7 is not listed on IDEAS
    23. Loukas Karabarbounis & Brent Neiman, 2014. "The Research Agenda: Loukas Karabarbounis and Brent Neiman on the Evolution of Factor Shares," EconomicDynamics Newsletter, Review of Economic Dynamics, vol. 15(2), November.
    24. Joseph W. Gruber & Steven B. Kamin, 2016. "The Corporate Saving Glut and Falloff of Investment Spending in OECD Economies," IMF Economic Review, Palgrave Macmillan;International Monetary Fund, vol. 64(4), pages 777-799, November.
    25. Khan, Hashmat & Kim, Bae-Geun, 2013. "Markups and oil prices in Canada," Economic Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 30(C), pages 799-813.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • E21 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Consumption; Saving; Wealth
    • E22 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Investment; Capital; Intangible Capital; Capacity
    • E25 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Aggregate Factor Income Distribution
    • G32 - Financial Economics - - Corporate Finance and Governance - - - Financing Policy; Financial Risk and Risk Management; Capital and Ownership Structure; Value of Firms; Goodwill
    • G35 - Financial Economics - - Corporate Finance and Governance - - - Payout Policy

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