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Micro-mechanisms behind declining labour shares: Market power, production processes, and global competition

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  • Mertens, Matthias

Abstract

This article investigates how changing production processes and increasing market power at the firm level relate to a fall in Germany's manufacturing sector labour share. Coinciding with the fall of the labour share, I document a rise in firms' product and labour market power. Notably, labour market power is a more relevant source of firms' market power than product market power. Increasing product and labour market power, however, only account for 30% of the fall in the labour share. The remaining 70% are explained by a transition of firms towards less labour-intensive production activities. I study the role of final product trade in causing those secular movements. I find that rising foreign export demand contributes to a decline in the labour share by increasing labour market power within firms and by inducing a reallocation of economic activity from nonexporting-high-labour-share to exporting-low-labour-share firms.

Suggested Citation

  • Mertens, Matthias, 2019. "Micro-mechanisms behind declining labour shares: Market power, production processes, and global competition," IWH-CompNet Discussion Papers 3/2019, Halle Institute for Economic Research (IWH).
  • Handle: RePEc:zbw:iwhcom:32019
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    Cited by:

    1. Richiardi, Matteo G. & Valenzuela, Luis, 2019. "Firm Heterogeneity and the Aggregate Labour Share," MPRA Paper 94561, University Library of Munich, Germany.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    labour share; market power; labour market distortions; international trade; factor substitution;

    JEL classification:

    • D24 - Microeconomics - - Production and Organizations - - - Production; Cost; Capital; Capital, Total Factor, and Multifactor Productivity; Capacity
    • E25 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Aggregate Factor Income Distribution
    • F16 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Trade and Labor Market Interactions
    • J50 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Labor-Management Relations, Trade Unions, and Collective Bargaining - - - General
    • L10 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance - - - General
    • L60 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Manufacturing - - - General

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