A study on the effect of functional distribution of income on aggregate demand

Franchi de' Cavalieri, Gabriele (2016) A study on the effect of functional distribution of income on aggregate demand. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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Abstract

In this thesis, we study the causal relationship between functional distribution of income and economic growth. In particular, we focus on some of the aspects that might alter the effect of the profit share on growth. After a brief introduction and literature review, the empirical contributions will be presented in Chapters 3,4 and 5.
Chapter 3 analyses the effect of a contemporaneous decrease in the wage share among countries that are major trade partners. Falling wage share and wage moderation are a global phenomenon which are hardly opposed by governments. This is because lower wages are associated with lower export prices and, therefore, have a positive effect on net-exports. There is, however, a fallacy of composition problem: not all countries can improve their balance of payments contemporaneously. Studying the country members of the North America Free Trade Agreement, we find that the effect on export of a contemporaneous decrease in the wage share in Mexico, Canada and the United States, is negative in all countries. In other words, the competitive advantage that each country gains because of a reduction in its wage share (to which is associated a decrease in export prices), is offset by a contemporaneous increase in competitiveness in the other two countries. Moreover, we find that NAFTA is overall wage-led: the profit share has a negative effect on aggregate demand.
Chapter 4 tests whether it is possible that the effect of the profit share on growth is different in the long run and in the short run. Following Blecker (2014) our hypothesis is that in the short run the growth regime is less wage-led than it is in the long run. The results of our empirical investigation support this hypothesis, at least for the United States over the period 1950-2014. The effect of wages on consumption increases more than proportionally compared to the effect of profits on consumption from the short to the long run. Moreover, consumer debt seem to have only a short-run effect on consumption indicating that in the long run, when debt has to be repaid, consumption depends more on the level of income and on how it is distributed. Regarding investment, the effect of capacity utilization is always larger than the effect of the profit share and that the difference between the two effects is higher in the long run than in the short run. This confirms the hypothesis that in the long run, unless there is an increase in demand, it is likely that firms are not going to increase investments even in the presence of high profits. In addition, the rentier share of profits – that comprises dividends and interest payments – has a long-run negative effect on investment. In the long run rentiers divert firms’ profits from investment and, therefore, it weakens the effect of profits on investment.
Finally, Chapter 5 studies the possibility of structural breaks in the relationship between functional distribution of income and growth. We argue that, from the 1980s, financialization and the European exchange rate agreements weakened the positive effect of the profit share on growth in Italy. The growth regime is therefore becoming less profit-led and more wage-led. Our results confirm this hypothesis and also shed light on the concept of cooperative and conflictual regimes as defined by Bhaduri and Marglin (1990).

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: Economic growth, Post-Keynesian economics, income distribution.
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HB Economic Theory
Colleges/Schools: College of Social Sciences > Adam Smith Business School > Economics
Supervisor's Name: Paloni, Dr. Alberto and Jeanette, Ms. Findlay
Date of Award: 2016
Depositing User: MR Gabriele Franhi de' Cavalieri
Unique ID: glathesis:2016-7710
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 01 Nov 2016 10:51
Last Modified: 21 Nov 2016 08:43
URI: http://theses.gla.ac.uk/id/eprint/7710

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