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OECD Statistics Working Papers

The OECD Statistics Working Paper Series - managed by the OECD Statistics and Data Directorate – is designed to make available in a timely fashion and to a wider readership selected studies prepared by staff in the Secretariat or by outside consultants working on OECD projects. The papers included are of a technical, methodological or statistical policy nature and relate to statistical work relevant to the organisation. The Working Papers are generally available only in their original language - English or French - with a summary in the other.

Joint Working Paper

Measuring Well-being and Progress in Countries at Different Stages of Development: Towards a More Universal Conceptual Framework (with OECD Development Centre)

Measuring and Assessing Job Quality: The OECD Job Quality Framework (with OECD Directorate for Employment, Labour and Social Affairs)

Forecasting GDP during and after the Great Recession: A contest between small-scale bridge and large-scale dynamic factor models (with OECD Economics Directorate)

Decoupling of wages from productivity: Macro-level facts (with OECD Economics Directorate)

Which policies increase value for money in health care? (with OECD Directorate for Employment, Labour and Social Affairs)

Compiling mineral and energy resource accounts according to the System of Environmental-Economic Accounting (SEEA) 2012 (with OECD Environment Directorate)

English

Comparing profit shares in value-added in four OECD countries

Towards more harmonised national accounts

This article gives methodological guidance on how best to compare the share of profits in value-added across countries using national accounts. Such comparisons are often based on accounts for institutional sectors such as non-financial corporations. It turns out that these are less internationally comparable than is usually assumed. The main issue is the allocation of certain types of self-employed workers to the corporations’ sector of some countries, most notably Germany and Italy. The consequence is that the measured gross operating surplus of corporations is overstated and has to be adjusted for international comparisons. If this is not feasible, it is preferable to rely on industry accounts, focus on a subset of industries and impute a labour compensation to self-employed workers for international comparisons. Profit shares in France, Germany, Italy and the United States are then much more similar than what the accounts for non-financial corporations suggest. The claim of a global increase in the profit share in the last decades is at best debatable for Germany and not backed with the evidence presented in this paper for France and Italy. It is only for the United States that we can confirm such an increase.

English

Keywords: distributed income of corporations, profit share, national accounts, self-employment, quasi-corporations
JEL: E25: Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics / Consumption, Saving, Production, Investment, Labor Markets, and Informal Economy / Aggregate Factor Income Distribution; E01: Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics / General / Measurement and Data on National Income and Product Accounts and Wealth; Environmental Accounts; J30: Labor and Demographic Economics / Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs / Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs: General
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