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Understanding labour income share dynamics in Europe

  • Arpaia, Alfonso
  • Pérez, Esther
  • Pichelmann, Karl

This paper seeks to understand labour share dynamics in Europe over the medium run. After documenting basic empirical regularities, we quantify the contribution of shifts in the sectoral and the employment composition of the economy to labour share movements. The findings from the shift-share analysis being on the descriptive side, we next identify the factors underlying labour share behaviour through a model-based approach. We proceed along the lines of Bentolila and Saint Paul (2003) but adopt a production function with capital-skill complementarity. We show that labour share movements are driven by a complex interplay of demand and supply conditions for capital and different skill categories of labour, the nature of technological progress and imperfect market structures. Based upon robust calibration, we show that most of the declining pattern in labour shares in nine EU15 Member States is governed by capital deepening in conjunction with capitalaugmenting technical progress and labour substitution across skill categories. Although institutional factors also play a significant role, they appear to be of somewhat less importance. To illustrate the relevance of the technological explanation we quantitatively assess the dynamic impact of a permanent reduction in the fraction of unskilled employment on the labour share. We find that, for a given elasticity of substitution between skilled and unskilled labour, the more skilled labour is complementary to capital, the more pronounced the decline in the labour share.

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Paper provided by University Library of Munich, Germany in its series MPRA Paper with number 15649.

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Date of creation: 12 May 2009
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Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:15649
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  1. Andrew Young, 2004. "Labor's Share Fluctuations, Biased Technical Change, and the Business Cycle," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 7(4), pages 916-931, October.
  2. Klump, Rainer & Preissler, Harald, 2000. " CES Production Functions and Economic Growth," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 102(1), pages 41-56, March.
  3. Francesco Caselli & Wilbur John Coleman, 2001. "Cross-Country Technology Diffusion: The Case of Computers," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(2), pages 328-335, May.
  4. Peter McAdam & Alpo Willman, 2004. "Supply, Factor Shares and Inflation Persistence: Re-examining Euro-area New-Keynesian Phillips Curves," Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics, Department of Economics, University of Oxford, vol. 66(s1), pages 637-670, 09.
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  8. Bentolila Samuel & Saint-Paul Gilles, 2003. "Explaining Movements in the Labor Share," The B.E. Journal of Macroeconomics, De Gruyter, vol. 3(1), pages 1-33, October.
  9. Jaramillo, F. & Schiantarelli, F. & Sembenelli, A., 1992. "Are Adjustment Costs for Labor Asymetric? An Econometric Test On Panel Data for Italy," Working Papers 92-13, C.V. Starr Center for Applied Economics, New York University.
  10. Daniel S. Hamermesh & Gerard A. Pfann, 1996. "Adjustment Costs in Factor Demand," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 34(3), pages 1264-1292, September.
  11. Pfann, Gerard A & Palm, Franz C, 1993. "Asymmetric Adjustment Costs in Non-linear Labour Demand Models for the Netherlands and U.K. Manufacturing Sectors," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 60(2), pages 397-412, April.
  12. Ventura, Jaume, 1997. "Growth and Interdependence," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 112(1), pages 57-84, February.
  13. Boeri, Tito & Cramer, Ulrich, 1992. "Employment growth, incumbents and entrants : Evidence from Germany," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 10(4), pages 545-565, December.
  14. Mika Saito, 2004. "Armington Elasticities in Intermediate Inputs Trade; A Problem in Using Multilateral Trade Data," IMF Working Papers 04/22, International Monetary Fund.
  15. Blanchard, Olivier & Wolfers, Justin, 2000. "The Role of Shocks and Institutions in the Rise of European Unemployment: The Aggregate Evidence," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 110(462), pages C1-33, March.
  16. Chris Papageorgiou & Marianne Saam, . "Two-Level CES Production Technology in the Solow and Diamond Growth Models," Departmental Working Papers 2005-07, Department of Economics, Louisiana State University.
  17. Olivier Blanchard & Francesco Giavazzi, 2003. "Macroeconomic Effects Of Regulation And Deregulation In Goods And Labor Markets," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 118(3), pages 879-907, August.
  18. Rolf Weder & Herbert Grubel, 1993. "The New Growth Theory and Coasean economics: Institutions to capture externalities," Review of World Economics (Weltwirtschaftliches Archiv), Springer, vol. 129(3), pages 488-513, September.
  19. Douglas Gollin, 2002. "Getting Income Shares Right," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 110(2), pages 458-474, April.
  20. Joaquim Oliveira Martins & Stefano Scarpetta & Dirk Pilat, 1996. "Mark-Up Ratios in Manufacturing Industries: Estimates for 14 OECD Countries," OECD Economics Department Working Papers 162, OECD Publishing.
  21. Antonella Trigari, 2009. "Equilibrium Unemployment, Job Flows, and Inflation Dynamics," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 41(1), pages 1-33, 02.
  22. Per Krusell & Lee E. Ohanian & Jose-Victor Rios-Rull & Giovanni L. Violante, 1997. "Capital-skill complementarity and inequality: a macroeconomic analysis," Staff Report 239, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  23. Alain de Serres & Stefano Scarpetta & Christine de la Maisonneuve, 2002. "Sectoral Shifts in Europe and the United States: How They Affect Aggregate Labour Shares and the Properties of Wage Equations," OECD Economics Department Working Papers 326, OECD Publishing.
  24. Harrison, Ann, 2005. "Has Globalization Eroded Labor’s Share? Some Cross-Country Evidence," MPRA Paper 39649, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  25. Charles I. Jones, 2003. "Growth, capital shares, and a new perspective on production functions," Proceedings, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, issue Nov.
  26. Bentolila, Samuel & Bertola, Giuseppe, 1990. "Firing Costs and Labour Demand: How Bad Is Eurosclerosis?," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 57(3), pages 381-402, July.
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