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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. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Charles I. Jones, 2003. "Growth, capital shares, and a new perspective on production functions," Proceedings, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, issue Nov.
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  6. Samuel Bentolila & Gilles Saint Paul, 1999. "Explaining movements in the labor share," Economics Working Papers 374, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra.
  7. Francesco Caselli & Wilbur John Coleman II, 2001. "Cross-Country Technology Diffusion: The Case of Computers," NBER Working Papers 8130, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  9. Ventura, Jaume, 1997. "Growth and Interdependence," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 112(1), pages 57-84, February.
  10. Acemoglu, Daron & Aghion, Philippe & Violante, Giovanni L, 2001. "Deunionization, Technical Change and Inequality," CEPR Discussion Papers 2764, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  11. Mika Saito, 2004. "Armington Elasticities in Intermediate Inputs Trade; A Problem in Using Multilateral Trade Data," IMF Working Papers 04/22, International Monetary Fund.
  12. 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.
  13. Hernando Zuleta & Andrew T. Young, 2007. "Labor's shares - aggregate and industry: accounting for both in a model of unbalanced growth with induced innovation," DOCUMENTOS DE TRABAJO 003105, UNIVERSIDAD DEL ROSARIO.
  14. 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.
  15. Douglas Gollin, 2001. "Getting Income Shares Right," Department of Economics Working Papers 2001-11, Department of Economics, Williams College.
  16. Klump, Rainer & Preissler, Harald, 2000. " CES Production Functions and Economic Growth," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 102(1), pages 41-56, March.
  17. Fallon, P R & Layard, P R G, 1975. "Capital-Skill Complementarity, Income Distribution, and Output Accounting," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 83(2), pages 279-301, April.
  18. PFANN, Gerard A. & PALM, Franz C., . "Asymmetric adjustment costs in non-linear labour demand models for the Netherlands and U.K. manufacturing sectors," CORE Discussion Papers RP -1044, Université catholique de Louvain, Center for Operations Research and Econometrics (CORE).
  19. Claudia Goldin & Lawrence F. Katz, 1996. "The Origins of Technology-Skill Complementarity," NBER Working Papers 5657, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  20. 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.
  21. 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.
  22. Harrison, Ann, 2005. "Has Globalization Eroded Labor’s Share? Some Cross-Country Evidence," MPRA Paper 39649, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  23. 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.
  24. Hamermesh, Daniel S. & Pfann, Gerard Antonie, 1996. "Adjustment Costs in Factor Demand," CEPR Discussion Papers 1371, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  25. 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.
  26. 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.
  27. 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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