Measuring Labor's Share

18 Pages Posted: 7 Jul 1999 Last revised: 12 Oct 2010

See all articles by Alan B. Krueger

Alan B. Krueger

Princeton University - Industrial Relations Section; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); IZA Institute of Labor Economics

Date Written: March 1999

Abstract

This paper considers conceptual and practical issues that arise in measuring labor's share of national income. Most importantly: How are workers defined? How is compensation defined? The current definition of labor compensation used the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) includes the salary of business owners and payments to retired workers in labor compensation. An alternative series to the BEA's standard series is presented. In addition, a simple method for decomposing labor compensation into a component due to raw labor' and a component due to human capital is presented. Raw labor's share of national income is estimated using Census and CPS data. The share of national income attributable to raw labor increased from 9.6 percent to 13 percent between 1939 and 1959, remained at 12-13 percent between 1959 and 1979, and fell to 5 percent by 1996.

Suggested Citation

Krueger, Alan B., Measuring Labor's Share (March 1999). NBER Working Paper No. w7006. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=154738

Alan B. Krueger (Contact Author)

Princeton University - Industrial Relations Section ( email )

Princeton, NJ 08544-2098
United States
609-258-4046 (Phone)
609-258-2907 (Fax)

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

IZA Institute of Labor Economics

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072
Germany

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