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Explaining the labor share: automation vs labor market institutions

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  • Luís Guimarães

    (Queen's University Belfast and cef.up)

  • Pedro Mazeda Gil

    (cef.up, FEP, Universidade do Porto)

Abstract

We propose a simple model to assess the evolution of the US labor share and how automation affects employment. In our model, heterogeneous firms may choose a manual technology and hire a worker subject to matching frictions. Alternatively, they may choose an automated technology and produce using only machines (robots). Our model offers three main insights. First, automation-augmenting shocks reduce the labor share but increase employment and wages. Second, labor market institutions play an almost insignificant role in explaining the labor share. Third, the US labor share only (clearly) fell after 1987 because of a contemporaneous acceleration of automation's productivity.

Suggested Citation

  • Luís Guimarães & Pedro Mazeda Gil, 2019. "Explaining the labor share: automation vs labor market institutions," CEF.UP Working Papers 1901, Universidade do Porto, Faculdade de Economia do Porto.
  • Handle: RePEc:por:cetedp:1901
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    Cited by:

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    3. Ana Lucia Abeliansky & Klaus Prettner, 2021. "Population Growth and Automation Density: Theory and CrossCountry Evidence," VID Working Papers 2102, Vienna Institute of Demography (VID) of the Austrian Academy of Sciences in Vienna.
    4. Kostøl, Fredrik B. & Svarstad, Elin, 2023. "Trade Unions and the Process of Technological Change," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 84(C).
    5. Sequeira, Tiago Neves & Garrido, Susana & Santos, Marcelo, 2021. "Robots are not always bad for employment and wages," International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 167(C), pages 108-119.
    6. Guimarães, Luís & Mazeda Gil, Pedro, 2022. "Looking ahead at the effects of automation in an economy with matching frictions," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 144(C).
    7. Abeliansky, Ana & Algur, Eda & Bloom, David E. & Prettner, Klaus, 2020. "The Future of Work: Challenges for Job Creation Due to Global Demographic Change and Automation," IZA Discussion Papers 12962, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    8. Xiaomeng Zhang & Theodore Palivos & Xiangbo Liu, 2022. "Aging and automation in economies with search frictions," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 35(2), pages 621-642, April.
    9. Abeliansky, Ana Lucia & Prettner, Klaus, 2023. "Automation and population growth: Theory and cross-country evidence," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 208(C), pages 345-358.
    10. Cui, Guanghui & Zhang, Yi & Ma, Jingwen & Yao, Wenyun, 2023. "Does environmental regulation affect the labor income share of manufacturing enterprises? Evidence from China," Economic Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 123(C).
    11. Hugo Hopenhayn & Julian Neira & Rish Singhania, 2022. "From Population Growth to Firm Demographics: Implications for Concentration, Entrepreneurship and the Labor Share," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 90(4), pages 1879-1914, July.
    12. Gasteiger, Emanuel & Prettner, Klaus, 2022. "Automation, Stagnation, And The Implications Of A Robot Tax," Macroeconomic Dynamics, Cambridge University Press, vol. 26(1), pages 218-249, January.
    13. Jacobs, Arthur, 2023. "Capital-augmenting technical change in the context of untapped automation opportunities," Mathematical Social Sciences, Elsevier, vol. 123(C), pages 155-166.
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Automation; Labor Share; Technology Choice; Employment; Matching Frictions.;
    All these keywords.

    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
    • J64 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Unemployment: Models, Duration, Incidence, and Job Search
    • L11 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance - - - Production, Pricing, and Market Structure; Size Distribution of Firms
    • O33 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Technological Change: Choices and Consequences; Diffusion Processes

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