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The role of financial constraints on labour share developments: macro- and micro-level evidence

Elena Crivellaro and Aikaterini Karadimitropoulou ()
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Elena Crivellaro: Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development

No 257, Working Papers from Bank of Greece

Abstract: Technological advancements have been affecting labour shares through a steep decline in the relative price of investment goods. This has lowered the cost of capital allowing firms to replace labour with capital. Nonetheless, financing obstacles could obstruct investment in both labour and capital. This paper assesses the role of financial constraints in hampering the effect of relative investment prices change on labour shares, using data for up to 26 OECD countries over the period 1995-2014. We find statistically significant, economically large and robust effects of financial constraints acting as a channel to hinder the effect of relative investment prices changes on labour shares. In particular, our results reveal that: (i) there has been a global decline in the labour share that coincides with declines in the relative price of investment goods and this decline has been heterogeneous across countries with different levels of financial constraints; (ii) industries highly dependent on external finance face a lower decline in the labour share following a drop in the relative investment price than industries that are less dependent on external finance, possibly because they are more constrained in accessing funds to finance investment; (iii) industry-level investment prices affect the labour share partly through changes within-firms rather than through composition effects, with smaller effects for firms that are more dependent on external finance and larger effects in less financially constrained and highly productive firms. These results are corroborated by an estimated aggregate elasticity of substitution between capital and labour greater than one, and higher for countries that are less financially constrained.

Keywords: Labour Income Share; Financial Constraints; External Financial Dependence; Relative investment price (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: E25 E44 O33 J21 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-mac and nep-tid
Date: 2019-02
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