Aggregate profitability and income distribution in the UK corporate sector, 1963–1985

Andrew Henley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This paper analyses the secular and cyclical behaviour of the rate of profit for the UK corporate sector from 1962 to 1985, using the growth accounting framework developed by Weisskopf (1979) for the USA, and the labour share decomposition of Henley (1987). The results show that the five per cent per annum decline in net profit rate in the UK over the period is explained in part by each of the three factors of declining profit share, declining capital productivity and, to a lesser extent, declining capacity utilization. As in the USA profitability peaks prematurely in each business cycle as a result of distributional pressure. Further decomposition of these components points to the importance of inadequate growth of real labour productivity as an explanatory factor, and to the inability of firms to protect profit share from the effect of the pre-1979 growing employer labour tax burden. The post-1980 profit revival in the UK is not explained by a ‘breakthrough’ in terms of an improved growth rate of labour or capital productivity but rather by the sheer length of the sustained business upswing and, as yet, absence of the usual midcycle upward pressure on labour share.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)170-190
Number of pages21
JournalInternational Review of Applied Economics
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1989
Externally publishedYes


Dive into the research topics of 'Aggregate profitability and income distribution in the UK corporate sector, 1963–1985'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this