The decline of the labor income share in Mexico
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The paper studies the decline of the labor income share (LIS) in Mexico during the period 1990–2015. The decline is mostly explained by reductions within the economy’s major sectors (including manufacturing, tradables, and non-tradables) rather than by a recomposition of value added towards sectors with low labor shares. In contrast to agriculture—where LIS fell due to a shift of labor force from self-employment to wage-employment—in other major areas of the economy the fall in LIS is explained by reductions within the wage-employment sector.
Econometric estimations indicate that parallel declines in the wage share and relative productivity of non-tradables and in the US manufacturing labor share all played a large role in the reduction of the manufacturing wage share in Mexico. More generally, the analysis suggests that the lagging productivity of the economy’s informal non-tradable sector—itself a reflection of the country’s low aggregate rate of economic growth—is a crucial factor in the fall of LIS in the formal sectors. The paper concludes by discussing possible explanations for the paradox of the slow rate of economic growth in Mexico despite the rise in the profit share.