The contribution of wages to total income in Switzerland has remained constant in the past 30 years. In other developed countries, in contrast, the labour share has fallen, a study supported by the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF) reveals. One reason for the stability of the Swiss labour share is the high level of education.
The revenues earned by companies are divided between the employees (in the form of wages) and the shareholders (in the form of profits). In economics, the contribution made by wages to the population’s total income is referred to as the labour share. It is a key indicator of how income is distributed within a country.
This is because the distribution of wage income in society is far more even than that of capital income, which is focused on a small group. A reduction in the labour share tends to lead, therefore, to greater levels of inequality in the national economy, and could weaken social cohesion.
Michael Siegenthaler, Tobias Stucki and Michael Graff of KOF Swiss Economic Institute at the ETH Zurich have investigated the development of the labour share in the countries of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) in recent decades. Switzerland apparently has an exceptional role: from 1980 to 2012, the labour share here has remained stable, whilst in most other OECD countries it has fallen.
In Switzerland, the share of wages in total income has been constantly between 65 and 70 per cent. In countries such as France, Italy, Japan, the USA and Sweden, in contrast, the labour share has fallen during the past 30 years from between 65 and 70 per cent to between 55 and 60 per cent.
High labour share due to high level of education
Using data from companies, the researchers investigated the factors that explain changes in the labour share. Alongside weaker trade unions, above all the increased use of computers and the Internet have been responsible for the decrease in the labour share of most OECD countries. “Routine tasks are being done more and more by computers, rather than by people,” says Michael Siegenthaler. This reduces the labour share of total income as in particular less well qualified employees are no longer needed.
In comparison with countries like Sweden or the USA, Switzerland slept through this technological revolution from 1980 to the mid 1990s. After this point, Switzerland was able to dampen the effects of the digital revolution on the labour share, in part owing to its high standards of education, with a relatively high number of qualified employees using computers to perform complex tasks.
Switzerland to lose its special position
Another key reason for Switzerland’s special position in respect of the labour share according to the researchers is the change in the industrial landscape. In the last 30 years, the Swiss industrial scene has moved less significantly towards sectors with low labour shares than has been the case in other countries. “Switzerland has specialised in knowledge-intensive sectors of industry and services that have above-average labour shares,” says Siegenthaler. This has counteracted the decrease in the labour share.
The researchers also investigated the possible future development of the labour share in Switzerland. Their assumption is that computerisation of the workplace will further increase and the power of the unions continue to fall. Therefore, Switzerland will probably have to cede its special position to a certain extent, as the labour share is likely to fall here too by 2020.
M. Siegenthaler, T. Stucki: Dividing the pie: the determinants of labor’s share of income on the firm level. KOF Working Paper No. 352, February 2014.
Media - Abteilung Kommunikation | idw - Informationsdienst Wissenschaft
Rutgers-led innovation could spur faster, cheaper, nano-based manufacturing
14.02.2018 | Rutgers University
New study from the University of Halle: How climate change alters plant growth
12.01.2018 | Martin-Luther-Universität Halle-Wittenberg
Satellites in near-Earth orbit are at risk due to the steady increase in space debris. But their mission in the areas of telecommunications, navigation or weather forecasts is essential for society. Fraunhofer FHR therefore develops radar-based systems which allow the detection, tracking and cataloging of even the smallest particles of debris. Satellite operators who have access to our data are in a better position to plan evasive maneuvers and prevent destructive collisions. From April, 25-29 2018, Fraunhofer FHR and its partners will exhibit the complementary radar systems TIRA and GESTRA as well as the latest radar techniques for space observation across three stands at the ILA Berlin.
The "traffic situation" in space is very tense: the Earth is currently being orbited not only by countless satellites but also by a large volume of space...
An international team of researchers has discovered a new anti-cancer protein. The protein, called LHPP, prevents the uncontrolled proliferation of cancer cells in the liver. The researchers led by Prof. Michael N. Hall from the Biozentrum, University of Basel, report in “Nature” that LHPP can also serve as a biomarker for the diagnosis and prognosis of liver cancer.
The incidence of liver cancer, also known as hepatocellular carcinoma, is steadily increasing. In the last twenty years, the number of cases has almost doubled...
In just a few weeks from now, the Chinese space station Tiangong-1 will re-enter the Earth's atmosphere where it will to a large extent burn up. It is possible that some debris will reach the Earth's surface. Tiangong-1 is orbiting the Earth uncontrolled at a speed of approx. 29,000 km/h.Currently the prognosis relating to the time of impact currently lies within a window of several days. The scientists at Fraunhofer FHR have already been monitoring Tiangong-1 for a number of weeks with their TIRA system, one of the most powerful space observation radars in the world, with a view to supporting the German Space Situational Awareness Center and the ESA with their re-entry forecasts.
Following the loss of radio contact with Tiangong-1 in 2016 and due to the low orbital height, it is now inevitable that the Chinese space station will...
Fraunhofer Institute for Organic Electronics, Electron Beam and Plasma Technology FEP, provider of research and development services for OLED lighting solutions, announces the founding of the “OLED Licht Forum” and presents latest OLED design and lighting solutions during light+building, from March 18th – 23rd, 2018 in Frankfurt a.M./Germany, at booth no. F91 in Hall 4.0.
They are united in their passion for OLED (organic light emitting diodes) lighting with all of its unique facets and application possibilities. Thus experts in...
A new scenario seeking to explain how Mars' putative oceans came and went over the last 4 billion years implies that the oceans formed several hundred million...
23.03.2018 | Event News
19.03.2018 | Event News
16.03.2018 | Event News
23.03.2018 | Materials Sciences
23.03.2018 | Agricultural and Forestry Science
23.03.2018 | Physics and Astronomy