These first two mechanisms directly contributed to a more equitable distribution of income and spread around good jobs more evenly in the population. But the third advantage of the system may have been the most essential: the fixed industry wage level meant that more productive firms would not have to pay much higher wages, and thus there was an attractive profit opportunity for firms that could increase their productivity via investment, reorganization and innovation. Swedish firms took advantage of this profit opportunity with gusto, and in fact, the benefit for high-productivity firms was one of the main reasons why Swedish business signed up to the corporatist model in the historic meeting between business leaders, trade unionists, and the Swedish Workers Party in Even if much of Europe and the United States look very different from the Nordic countries, their economic systems show many parallels, and the shared prosperity that they achieved in the decades following World War II has common roots.
This architecture, underpinned by democratic politics, provided a social safety net, protections for workers, government-funded education, support for research and development in new technologies, and promoted the creation of high-wage jobs. Many countries, not just the United States, generated a huge growth in labor demand during this era based on this compact. Though US society was far from idyllic in the s and s not least because of the overt and covert discrimination against African-Americans and women; or the shockingly unequal distribution of education and health resources , the economy did achieve a certain amount of shared prosperity.
Notably, real wages for many different demographic groups, including workers of all educational backgrounds, grew in tandem with productivity. The left panel shows that between and the per capita real wage bill grew by 2. This growth was driven principally by rising average wages, underpinned by improvements in the job prospects for most workers in the US economy. The picture between and , depicted on the right panel, is very different. During this period, the per capita real wage bill grew by only 1. Though some of this growth slowdown is accounted for by the declining labor force participation of men, the bulk of the contrast with the previous 40 years is due to stagnant average wages and the scarcity of good jobs.
Indeed, there has been little growth in average real wages since the s, and many groups, including men with less than a college degree, have seen their real wages decline sharply over this period. Figure 1: The growth of US real wage bill relative to population. The left panel shows and the right panel Three pillars underpinned shared prosperity and high-wage job creation in Western Europe and North America during the postwar era.
First, technology. Businesses found ways to increase labor productivity, which fueled greater labor demand. This was based first and foremost on technology adoption, innovation, and efficiency gains. Yet technology was not a gift from the heavens raining down on firms. Government support was equally critical. Further, government agencies and the public sector, especially the military, have directly demanded certain types of technologies.
It is not only the Internet where the government played a leading role. Second, labor and product market institutions.
Businesses eagerly increased their demand for workers in a broadly competitive product market, which propelled innovations and prevented ballooning of profits at the expense of labor. Labor market institutions, such as minimum wages, trade unions, and worker safety regulations, helped too buy pushing firms towards creating better jobs.
Third, education. Of course, firms would not have been willing to hire millions of well-paid workers if these workers lacked useful skills. Though we live in an education-obsessed society and some parents will go to great lengths to provide a head start for their children, the buck stops with the government. So the federal government supported for university education through G. All of the support for technology and education meant a vital need for tax revenues, which were provided by economic growth and moderately higher tax rates.
The cessation of high-wage job creation is mostly about the changing nature of labor demand, itself a consequence of advances in automation and globalization, but aggravated by the changing institutional architecture of the United States and several other Western nations. The central role of automation and globalization does not mean that these changes were inevitable, however.
Automation and globalization can generate broad productivity gains and greater profits for businesses. But their effects on labor demand are more mixed. Both of these phenomena are motivated by a desire to save on labor costs. Automation is the process of substituting machines for human labor. It is the same impulse that initiated the British Industrial Revolution in the middle of the 18 th century with breakthroughs in spinning and weaving technologies and powered the mechanization of agriculture starting in the late 19 th century. The motivation for globalization is similar.
By importing goods from China or other countries with lower wages, businesses are able to increase profits and the economy could in principle benefit by reallocating workers to more productive activities.
Yet automation and globalization create winners and losers. The losers often include the workers who are seeing their jobs disappear. But the already weak US labor market protections for workers became even feebler, and the social democratic compact crumbled, just as automation and globalization gained momentum. The social safety net did not keep up with the growing need for helping dislocated workers. The almost complete erosion of the real value of the federal minimum wage and the weakening of trade unions in much of the private sector removed the inducements to firms to invest in good jobs.
The huge concentration of economic activity in the hands of big businesses in every sector of the economy not only led to a more lopsided distribution of economic gains but also allowed businesses to exert greater power in the product and labor markets. These institutional changes meant that automation and globalization accelerated without safety rails — no protection for workers losing their jobs or unable to find good ones; no encouragement to firms to develop new economic opportunities for shared prosperity.
The result has been not just fewer good jobs, but also a failure to maximize the productivity gains from these economic opportunities. The productivity gains from both automation and globalization originate in the ability to substitute away from labor towards cheaper alternatives machines in the case of automation, foreign labor in the case of globalization. The cost savings translate into greater effective productivity for firms and fuel investment and job creation. When labor is relatively well-paid, this is exactly what happens, because the gains from substituting away from labor are sizable.
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Paradoxically, however, when labor is already cheap, the gains from substitution are more limited, and thus there is not much impetus for further investment and job creation. Meanwhile, government commitment to education and science has wavered since the Sputnik era spawned by fears of Soviet supremacy in science and technology ended, and government leadership in research and innovation has evaporated.
Federally-funded research and development declined from about 1. So why did the social democratic compact underpinning shared prosperity disintegrate over the last several decades? We do not know for sure, but there are some plausible explanations. First, the collapse of the Soviet Union and its communist state-planning ideology gave unfettered markets a certain luster.
Once we know that state-planning is unsuccessful, why not double down on free markets? But, as I have argued, shared prosperity was driven not by unfettered markets, but by regulated markets that generated strong incentives for the creation of high-wage jobs. The translog model results we got indicate that economic growth is inelastic to tax structure in Zimbabwe.go
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As such, we recommend policies that rely on non-tax stimuli to the economy to buttress growth. We find that the most inefficient years were those punctuated with bad economic governance and droughts. Branson, J. Engen, E. Farrell, M. Gordon, R. Hall, R. Jones, L. Kerr, I. Kim, S. King, R.
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