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Explaining movements in the labor share

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  • Samuel Bentolila
  • Gilles Saint Paul

Abstract

In this paper we study the evolution of the labor share in the OECD since 1970. We show it is essentially related to the capital-output ratio; that this relationship is shifted by factors like the price of imported materials or the skill mix; and that discrepancies between the marginal product of labor and the real wage (due to, e.g., product market power, union bargaining, and labor adjustment costs) cause departures from it. We provide estimates of the model with panel data on 14 industries and 14 countries for 1973-93 and use them to compute the evolution of the wage gap in Germany and the US.

Suggested Citation

  • Samuel Bentolila & Gilles Saint Paul, 1999. "Explaining movements in the labor share," Economics Working Papers 374, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra.
  • Handle: RePEc:upf:upfgen:374
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Arellano, Manuel & Bover, Olympia, 1995. "Another look at the instrumental variable estimation of error-components models," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 68(1), pages 29-51, July.
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    4. Stephen Nickell, 1997. "Unemployment and Labor Market Rigidities: Europe versus North America," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 11(3), pages 55-74, Summer.
    5. Caballero, Ricardo J. & Hammour, Mohamad L., 1998. "Jobless growth: appropriability, factor substitution, and unemployment," Carnegie-Rochester Conference Series on Public Policy, Elsevier, vol. 48(1), pages 51-94, June.
    6. Per Krusell & Lee E. Ohanian & JosÈ-Victor RÌos-Rull & Giovanni L. Violante, 2000. "Capital-Skill Complementarity and Inequality: A Macroeconomic Analysis," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 68(5), pages 1029-1054, September.
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    8. Nickell, Stephen J, 1977. "The Influence of Uncertainty on Investment," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 87(345), pages 47-70, March.
    9. Rotemberg, Julio J & Woodford, Michael, 1992. "Oligopolistic Pricing and the Effects of Aggregate Demand on Economic Activity," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 100(6), pages 1153-1207, December.
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    11. Rotemberg, Julio J. & Woodford, Michael, 1999. "The cyclical behavior of prices and costs," Handbook of Macroeconomics,in: J. B. Taylor & M. Woodford (ed.), Handbook of Macroeconomics, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 16, pages 1051-1135 Elsevier.
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Labor share; capital-output ratio;

    JEL classification:

    • E25 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Aggregate Factor Income Distribution
    • J30 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - General

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