The Effect of Mandatory Profit-Sharing on Workers and Firms: Evidence from France (R&R at the Quarterly Journal of Economics)


Since 1967, all French firms with more than 100 employees are required to share a fraction of their excess-profits with their employees. Through this scheme, firms with excess-profits distribute on average 10.5% of their pre-tax income to workers. In 1990, the eligibility threshold was reduced to 50 employees. We exploit this regulatory change to identify the effects of mandated profit-sharing on firms and their employees. The cost of mandated profit-sharing for firms is evident in the significant bunching at the 100 employee threshold observed prior to the reform, which completely disappears post-reform. Using a difference-in-difference strategy, we find that, at the firm-level, mandated profit-sharing (a) increases labor share by 1.8 percentage points, (b) reduces the profit share by 1.4 percentage points, and (c) does not affect investment nor productivity. At the employee level, mandated profit-sharing increases low-skill workers’ total compensation and leaves high-skill workers total compensation unchanged. Overall, mandated profit-sharing redistributes excess-profits to lower-skill workers in the firm, without generating significant distortions or productivity effects.

David Sraer
David Sraer
Associate Professor

David Sraer is an associate professor in economics and finance at UC Berkeley.