May 6, 2020
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What Determines the Capital Share?

What Determines the Capital Share over the Long Run of History?

This paper, written by Erik Bengtsson, Enrico Rubolino and Daniel Waldenström, explores how the capital share in national income is affected by radical institutional and political shifts in history in a sample of 20 countries.

Key results

  • The results show that the capital share decreased in response to the introduction of universal suffrage in the early 1900s, the undoing of colonialism and the implementation of redistributive policies during the post-war period.
  • By contrast, the capital share increased following the erosion of trade unionism since the 1980s and also during wars due to wartime windfall profits to capital owners.

Click here to access to paper


The figure below illustrates the decrease of capital shares with the introduction of the universal suffrage

Capital share and universal suffrage - World Inequality Lab



  • Erik Bengtsson
  • Enrico Rubolino,
  • Daniel Waldenström,

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