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Real wage productivity elasticity across advanced economies, 1963-1996

Scott Carter ()

Journal of Post Keynesian Economics, 2007, vol. 29, issue 4, 573-600

Abstract: The question of a constant wage share (Bowley's Law) has long been both an empirical and theoretical point of contention between rival theories of macroeconomic (functional) distribution. This paper explores some of these theoretical debates and issues related to Bowley's Law in contextualizing a simple empirical test of the real wage productivity elasticity of a cross section of 15 advanced economies across the 34-year period from 1963 to 1996. The evidence supports the hypothesis of a structural break in functional distribution on or around 1979 when real wages exhibit productivity inelasticity and the share of wages in national income starts a downward trajectory almost across the board. This is especially striking given the wide variety of labor market institutions and conditions across the 15 advanced economies. The paper concludes by posing the question that in light of the evidence presented perhaps a possible rethinking is in order (especially vis-Ã -vis possible national union strategies) regarding Marx's predictions on the fate of the working class as capitalism progresses.

Keywords: Bowley's Law; functional income distribution; labor market institutions and conditions; wage share (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2007
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Handle: RePEc:mes:postke:v:29:y:2007:i:4:p:573-600