A note on competitiveness, unit labor costs and growth: Is "Kaldor's Paradox" a figment of interpretation?

Author name: 
Felipe J

This paper shows that unit labor costs (ulcs), the most widely used measure of competitiveness, can be interpreted as the labor share in output multiplied by a price-adjustment factor. This has three main implications. First, ulcs are not just a technical concept since they embody the social relations that affect the distribution of income between the social classes. Secondly, lower ulcs should not necessarily be interpreted as implying that an economy is more competitive, i.e., that it will grow faster, and vice-versa. In wage-led growth economies, an increase in the wage share leads to an increase in the equilibrium capacity utilization rate, which leads to an increase in the growth rate of the capital stock. Hence it is possible to find that the countries with fast-growing ulcs are the ones registering faster growth in exports or in GDP. Once one analyzes ulcs taking into account their functional distribution dimension, “Kaldor’s paradox” ceases to be an anomalous result. Finally, one can define the concept of unit capital cost as a measure of competitiveness and shift the burden of lack of growth or loss of market share to capital.

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