Labor Structure

  • Blair FixEmail author
Part of the SpringerBriefs in Energy book series (BRIEFSENERGY)


This chapter tests the implicit neoclassical assumption that changes in labor structure are not important for growth. Building on insights offered by Giampietro et al., a simple biophysical model of structural change is advanced and tested. This model is able to accurately reproduce the majority of US labor structure change over the last two centuries. The insights provided by this model are then used to make the following predictions: increases in energy consumption should lead to a decrease in the agricultural share of employment and an increase in the service share of employment. These predictions are tested at the level of the global economy, the international level, and the national level. In all cases, empirical results support the above prediction, contradicting the neoclassical assumption that structural change is unimportant to growth. The implication of these results is that a future contraction of the world’s energy supply will likely render the current demographic “inversion” inoperative.


Labor Productivity Service Sector Employment Share Labor Productivity Growth Productivity Growth Rate 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


  1. Baily MN, Gordon RJ, Solow RM (1981) Productivity and the services of capital and labor. Brook Pap Econ Act 1981(1):1–65CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Baran PA, Sweezy PM (1966) Monopoly capital: an essay on the American economist and social order. Monthly Review Press, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  3. Baumol WJ (1967) Macroeconomics of unbalanced growth: the anatomy of urban crisis. Am Econ Rev 57(3):415–426Google Scholar
  4. BLS (2009) BLS handbook of methods.
  5. Carter SB, Gartner SS, Haines MR, Olmstead AL, Sutch R, Wright G (2006) Historical statistics of the United States: millennial edition. Cambridge University Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  6. Chinloy P (1980) Sources of quality change in labor input. Am Econ Rev 70(1):108–119Google Scholar
  7. Clark C (1940) The conditions of economic progress. Macmillan, LondonGoogle Scholar
  8. Cleveland C, Costanza R, Hall C, Kaufmann R (1984) Energy and the US economy: a biophysical perspective. Science 225(4665):890–897CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Denison EF (1962) Sources of economic growth in the United States and the alternatives before us. Committee for Economic Development, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  10. Echevarria C (1997) Changes in sectoral composition associated with economic growth. Int Econ Rev 38(2):431–452CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Eigen M (1971) Selforganization of matter and the evolution of biological macromolecules. Naturwissenschaften 58(10):465–523CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Engel E (1857) Die productions-und consumtions-verhältnisse des königreichs sachsen. Bulletin de l’Institut International de la Statistique 9Google Scholar
  13. Felipe J, Fisher FM (2003) Aggregation in production functions: what applied economists should know. Metroeconomica 54(2–3):208–262CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Fisher AGB (1935) The clash of progress and security. Macmillan, LondonGoogle Scholar
  15. Foellmi R, Zweimüller J (2008) Structural change, Engel’s consumption cycles and Kaldor’s facts of economic growth. J Monetary Econ 55(7):1317–1328CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Francois JF (1990) Producer services, scale, and the division of labor. Oxf Econ Pap 42:715–729Google Scholar
  17. Giampietro M, Mayumi K, Sorman A (2012) The metabolic pattern of societies: where economists fall short. Routledge, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  18. Giampietro M, Mayumi K, Sorman A (2013) Energy analysis for a sustainable future: multi-scale integrated analysis of societal and ecosystem metabolism. Routledge, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  19. Gierlinger S, Krausmann F (2012) The physical economy of the United States of America. J Ind Ecol 16(3):365–377CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Giljum S, Hubacek K (2001) International trade, material flows and land use: developing a physical trade balance for the European Union. Interim Report International Institute for applied systems analysis (01–059)Google Scholar
  21. Greenfield HI (1966) Manpower and the growth of producer services. Columbia University Press, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  22. Greenhalgh C, Gregory M (2001) Structural change and the emergence of the new service economy. Oxf Bull Econ Stat 63(s1):629–646CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Guilford MC, Hall C, O’Connor P, Cleveland C (2011) A new long term assessment of energy return on investment (EROI) for US oil and gas discovery and production. Sustainability 3(10):1866–1887CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Hall CAS, Cleveland CJ, Kaufmann RK (1986) Energy and resource quality: the ecology of the economic process. Wiley Interscience, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  25. Hodgson GM (2012) On the limits of rational choice theory. Economic Thought: History, Philosphy, and Methodology 1(1)Google Scholar
  26. Jackson T (1996) Material concerns: pollution, profit, and quality of life. Routledge, New YorkCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Leontief W (1971) Theoretical assumptions and nonobserved facts. Am Econ Rev 61(1):1–7Google Scholar
  28. Maddison A (2008) Statistics on world population, GDP and per capita GDP, 1-2008 AD.
  29. Ngai R, Pissarides CA (2004) Structural change in a multi-sector model of growth. Center for Economic Performance Discussion Paper No. 627Google Scholar
  30. North DC (1990) Institutions, institutional change and economic performance. Cambridge University Press, New YorkCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Perry GL, Denison EF, Solow RM (1971) Labor force structure, potential output, and productivity. Brookings Pap Econ Act (3):533–578Google Scholar
  32. Schwartzman D (1968) The contribution of education to the quality of labor 1929–1963. Am Econ Rev 58(3, Part 1):508–514Google Scholar
  33. Stahel WR (1997) The service economy: 'wealth without resource consumption`? Philos Trans Royal Soc Lond Ser A: Math, Phys Eng Sci 355(1728):1309–1319CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Ulanowicz RE (1986) Growth and development: ecosystems phenomenology. Springer, New YorkCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Whelan K (2000) Balanced growth revisited: a two-sector model of economic growth. Federal Reserve Board, Division of Research and Statistics working paperGoogle Scholar
  36. Whelan K (2003) A two-sector approach to modeling US NIPA data. J Money, Credit Bank 35(4):627–656CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Zipf GK (1941) National unity and disunity. Principia Press, BloomingtonGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) - SpringerBriefs 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculty of Environmental StudiesYork UniversityTorontoCanada

Personalised recommendations