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Unemployment and the wage share: a long-run exploration for major mature economies

Antonella Stirati () and Walter Paternesi Meloni

Structural Change and Economic Dynamics, 2021, vol. 56, issue C, 330-352

Abstract: After the 1980s, advanced capitalist economies witnessed a significant decline of the wage share in income. Along with the conventional view, which ascribes this decline to technological factors and international trade, another line of enquiry has endorsed a ‘political economy’ approach and identified several drivers of the wage share erosion. Yet, the role of persistent changes in unemployment has remained relatively unexplored. We try to fill this gap moving from a recent contribution by Anwar Shaikh, who analyzed the relation between unemployment and changes in income distribution in the US economy. We study this relationship by adopting a long-term approach, and two alternative measures of labor market slack. We extend Shaikh's method of analysis to eight mature economies, and we carry out the analysis using further econometric techniques. Results generally confirm the adverse impact of unemployment on the labor share, while do not support the notion of equilibrium unemployment.

Keywords: Wage share; Income distribution; Unemployment; Unemployment duration; Bargaining power (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: E11 E12 E25 J64 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2021
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DOI: 10.1016/j.strueco.2021.01.003

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