Sunday, 26 August 2012

Growth and wages

I have made the point in the past that economic growth leads to wage growth. Paul Krugman makes the point when he writes,
Economic history offers no example of a country that experienced long-term productivity growth without a roughly equal rise in real wages. In the 1950s, when European productivity was typically less than half of U.S. productivity, so were European wages; today average compensation measured in dollars is about the same. As Japan climbed the productivity ladder over the past 30 years, its wages also rose, from 10% to 110% of the U.S. level. South Korea's wages have also risen dramatically over time. ("Does Third World growth hurt First World Prosperity?" Harvard Business Review 72 n4, July-August 1994: 113-21.)
Now James Otteson shows that Adam Smith was ahead of us on this issue, as he was on so many things.
It is not the actual greatness of national wealth, but its continual increase, which occasions a rise in the wages of labour. It is not, accordingly, in the richest countries, but in the most thriving, or in those which are growing rich the fastest, that the wages of labour are highest. [...] But though North America is not yet so rich as England, it is much more thriving, and advancing with much greater rapidity to the further acquisition of riches. ("An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations" I.viii.22-23)

1 comment:

TheEgyptian said...

Not necessarily. Observe the case of Singapore, which experienced dramatic economic growth though the 90s and 00s, yet real wages remained largely stagnant.