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Why Fewer Workers Join Unions in Europe: A Social Custom Explanation of Membership Trends

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  • Jelle Visser
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    Abstract

    Can the recent decline in union density in Europe be attributed to specific economic, social or institutional causes? Can unions influence these causes and reverse decline? Using two data sources - a representative survey of Dutch employees and a data set for European countries between 1950 and 1997 - the author examines the determinants of union decline. The theoretical model is based on a social custom approach to unionization, integrating rational choice and social network theory. The empirical results show improbable small margins of union resurgence, that is, if institutional support for union representation can be maintained or regained within and beyond workplaces. Copyright Blackwell Publishers Ltd/London School of Economics 2002.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Article provided by London School of Economics in its journal British Journal of Industrial Relations.

    Volume (Year): 40 (2002)
    Issue (Month): 3 (09)
    Pages: 403-430

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    Handle: RePEc:bla:brjirl:v:40:y:2002:i:3:p:403-430

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    Cited by:
    1. Andrea Vaona, 2006. "The Duration of Union Membership: an Empirical Study," Kiel Working Papers 1268, Kiel Institute for the World Economy.
    2. Schnabel, Claus & Wagner, Joachim, 2008. "The aging of the unions in West Germany, 1980-2006," IWQW Discussion Paper Series 04/2008, Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg, Institut für Wirtschaftspolitik und Quantitative Wirtschaftsforschung (IWQW).
    3. Schnabel, Claus, 2012. "Union membership and density: Some (not so) stylized facts and challenges," Discussion Papers 81, Friedrich-Alexander-University Erlangen-Nuremberg, Chair of Labour and Regional Economics.
    4. A Charlwood, 2003. "The Anatomy of Union Decline in Britain: 1990-1998," CEP Discussion Papers, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE dp0601, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
    5. Andy Charlwood, 2003. "The anatomy of union decline in Britain: 1990-1998," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library 20006, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    6. Schnabel, Claus & Wagner, Joachim, 2003. "Trade Union Membership in Eastern and Western Germany: Convergence or Divergence?," IZA Discussion Papers 707, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    7. Schnabel, Claus & Wagner, Joachim, 2005. "Determinants of Union Membership in 18 EU Countries : Evidence from Micro Data, 2002/03," Discussion Papers 31, Friedrich-Alexander-University Erlangen-Nuremberg, Chair of Labour and Regional Economics.
    8. Goerke, Laszlo & Pannenberg, Markus, 2007. "Trade union membership and work councils in West Germany," Tübinger Diskussionsbeiträge 311, University of Tübingen, School of Business and Economics.
    9. Schnabel, Claus, 2002. "Determinants of trade union membership," Discussion Papers 15, Friedrich-Alexander-University Erlangen-Nuremberg, Chair of Labour and Regional Economics.
    10. Hagen Lesch, 2004. "Trade Union Density in International Comparison," CESifo Forum, Ifo Institute for Economic Research at the University of Munich, Ifo Institute for Economic Research at the University of Munich, vol. 5(4), pages 12-18, December.
    11. Oesch, Daniel, 2010. "Explaining union growth and decline with flows in and out of membership. An analysis of Swiss union locals," MPRA Paper 24358, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    12. Laszlo Goerke & Markus Pannenberg, 2004. "Norm-Based Trade Union Membership: Evidence for Germany," German Economic Review, Verein für Socialpolitik, Verein für Socialpolitik, vol. 5(4), pages 481-504, November.
    13. Schnabel, Claus & Wagner, Joachim, 2003. "Determinants of Trade Union Membership in Western Germany: Evidence from Micro Data, 1980-2000," IZA Discussion Papers 708, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).

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