Micro-mechanisms behind Declining Labor Shares: Rising Market Power and Changing Modes of Production

I derive a micro-founded framework showing how rising firm market power on product and labor markets and falling aggregate labor output elasticities provide three competing explanations for falling labor shares. I apply my framework to 20 years of German manufacturing sector micro data containing firm-specific price information to study these three distinct drivers of declining labor shares. I document a severe increase in firms’ labor market power, whereas firms’ product market power stayed comparably low. Changes in firm market power and a falling aggregate labor output elasticity each account for one half of the decline in labor's share.

15. March 2022

Authors Matthias Mertens

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