- International Monetary Fund
- Published Date:
- July 1999
Bas B. Bakker
The growth of real wage costs is likely to depend on three factors:
Labor productivity growth. In the long run real wage costs are likely to grow in line with labor productivity growth, leaving the labor-income share unchanged.
The change in taxes and social security contributions levied on wages. An increase in taxes or contributions paid by employers directly affects wage costs, whereas an increase in taxes paid by employees may be shifted to higher wage demands.
Unemployment. With high or increasing unemployment, or both, wage demands are likely to be mitigated (Phillips curve effect).
We therefore use the following specification:
|Δrwt||=||change in real wage costs (in percent);|
|Δtaxt||=||change in taxes and social security contributions (expressed as percentage of wage costs);|
|Δprodt||=||growth of trend labor productivity (approximated by average change in the current and past two years);|
|Δurt||=||change in unemployment rate.|
Estimation for the 1974–97 period yields the following:
The estimation result would suggest a rather important impact of changes in taxes and social security contributions on wage costs, with every percentage point increase in taxes and contributions associated with a 0.7 percent increase in wage costs. During the 1984–97 period, cuts in taxes and contributions amounted to 0.9 percent of wage costs a year. This would have slowed real wage cost growth by 0.63 a year, or 9 percent over the entire period.
The change in the unemployment rate also has an important impact, with a 1 percentage point in increase in the unemployment rate associated with a 1 percent decrease in the growth rate of wage costs. The level of the unemployment rate does not seem to be empirically important, which could be the result of strong insider-outsider effects.
Bas B. Bakker
In the long run, employment is assumed to depend on real wage costs, real GDP, and a trend that serves as a proxy for technical progress:
where (all variables are in logs)
|lt||=||employment (measured in full-time equivalents);|
|rwt||=||real wage costs;|
|gdpt||=||read GDP; and|
|trendt||=||trend, representing labor-saving technical progress.|
In the short run, changes in employment depend on changes in real GDP and real wage costs, as well as the deviation of employment from its long-run equilibrium:
A test of λ = 0 is a test for cointegration. If the null-hypothesis of λ = 0 can be rejected then the variables are cointegrated. The t-statistic does not follow standard t-distribution but ADF-distribution.
Estimating equation (2) for the 1970–97 period, and leaving out variables that are insignificant yields the following specification:
Estimating results in:
The hypothesis that λ = 0 is rejected, implying that the variables are indeed cointegrated. From the estimation results we can obtain the long-run equilibrium relationship:
These estimation results would suggest that a 1 percent increase in real wage costs is associated with a 0.38 percent decrease in employment. The coefficient of real GDP is plausible; it suggests that with unchanged wages and no technological progress, employment grows in line with GDP.
The estimation results are broadly in line with those of the Central Planning Bureau. Whereas the Central Planning Bureau found that if real labor costs in 1990 had been 22 percent higher (implying that the labor income share in 1990 would have remained at its 1979 level), employment in full-time equivalents would have been 6.6 percent lower, these estimation results suggest that the long-run impact of such a difference in real wage costs is 8.4 percent.
Bas B. Bakker
This appendix tries to establish whether there has been a break in enterprise behavior in the early 1980s. It first looks at corporate investment and corporate saving separately, and then at the corporate saving balance.
Several variables can be expected to affect the ratio of corporate investment to GDP: demand growth, profitability, and real interest rates. However, while several indicators for profitability, real interest rates, and demand growth were examined, only demand growth variables were found to have a statistically significant impact. Table A1 shows the regression results for the final specification. In this specification, the investment rate depends upon the growth rate of real GDP: the faster the growth of real GDP, the higher the investment rate.
|Dependent Variable||Independent Variables|
corporate investment as percent of GDP;
growth of real GDP (average of current and previous year);
growth of export markets (average of current and previous year).
The regression results in Table A1 do not indicate that there has been a break in investment behavior. Indeed, the coefficients in the equation estimated for the 1970–80 period are statistically indistinguishable from those for the 1980–97 period.
While theoretically the link between high growth and high investment could go in both directions, it is likely that the causality has mainly run from high growth to high investment. If the investment equation is reestimated using growth of relevant world markets rather than growth of GDP, the fit of the equation remains virtually unchanged. Indeed, as indicated in Table A1, a strong correlation between growth of world markets and GDP growth can be found.
With little fluctuation in corporate dividends, corporate saving can be expected to mainly depend on corporate profits.1 The capital-income share, which is defined as that part of value added that does not go to labor, serves as a proxy, although not a perfect one, for corporate profits. Thus, we would expect to find a strong relation between the capital income share and corporate saving.
As indicated in Table A2, such a relationship can indeed be found. Fluctuations in the capital income share explain a very large part of the fluctuations in corporate saving. Further econometric tests did not reveal any break in corporate saving behavior in the 1980s.
|Dependent Variable||Independent Variables|
share of capital income in value added;
corporate saving as percent of GDP.
Corporate Saving Surplus
With both corporate saving and corporate investment displaying stable behavior in the past few decades, we would expect to find a stable relationship for the corporate saving balance as well. In such a relationship, we would expect the following variables to be statistically significant: the growth rate of real GDP and the share of capital income in value added. As indicated in Table A3, such a relationship can indeed be found.
|Dependent Variable||Independent Variables|
corporate saving surplus;
share of capital income in value added;
growth of real GDP (average of current and previous year).
There is no indication that there has been a break in corporate behavior in the early 1980s. Indeed, for investment, saving, as well as the saving surplus a specification could be found that showed a stable behavior throughout the period.
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