This paper provides evidence from the US and Denmark that managers with a business degree (“business managers”) reduce their employees’ wages. Within five years of the appointment of a business manager, wages decline by 6% and the labor share by 5 percentage points in the US, and by 3% and 3 percentage points in Denmark. Firms appointing business managers are not on differential trends and do not enjoy higher output, investment, or employment growth thereafter. Using manager retirements and deaths and an IV strategy based on the diffusion of the practice of appointing business managers within industry, region and size quartile cells, the researchers provide additional evidence that these are causal effects. They establish that the proximate cause of these (relative) wage effects are changes in rent-sharing practices following the appointment of business managers. Exploiting exogenous export demand shocks, the researchers show that non-business managers share profits with their workers, whereas business managers do not. But consistent with the first set of results, these business managers show no greater ability to increase sales or profits in response to exporting opportunities. Finally, the researchers use the influence of role models on college major choice to instrument for the decision to enroll in a business degree in Denmark and show that their estimates correspond to causal effects of practices and values acquired in business education – rather than the differential selection into business education of individuals unlikely to share rents with workers.
Changing Rent-Sharing in the Economy
Eclipse of Rent-Sharing: The Effects of Managers’ Business Education on Wages and the Labor Share in the US and Denmark