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The determinants of trade union membership in Britain: A survey of the literature


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  • Bob Mason
  • Peter Bain
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    Trade union density, defined as the number of union members divided by the total number of workers, fell in Britain from 55% in 1979 to about 41% in 1989. (By comparison, the corresponding U.S. figures for those years are 23% and 16%.) Even before the decline began, British scholars and practitioners began focusing increasing attention on the determinants of union growth and decline. This literature review traces debate on the subject in Britain to the work of George Bain and his colleagues starting in the mid-1970s, and examines several key contributions of more recent years. The authors differentiate "structuralist" studies, which emphasize environmental determinants of union membership (such as the business cycle), from "interventionist" studies, which place more emphasis on the influence of unions themselves (through the involvement of full-time officials in recruiting, for example). (Abstract courtesy JSTOR.)

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    Article provided by ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School in its journal ILR Review.

    Volume (Year): 46 (1993)
    Issue (Month): 2 (January)
    Pages: 332-351

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    Handle: RePEc:ilr:articl:v:46:y:1993:i:2:p:332-351

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    Cited by:
    1. Bruno Chiarini & Paolo Piselli, 2012. "Equilibrium earning premium and pension schemes: The long-run macroeconomic effects of the union," Discussion Papers 2_2012, D.E.S. (Department of Economic Studies), University of Naples "Parthenope", Italy.
    2. Dr Sukhan Jackson & Helen Higgs & Glenda Cooper, 2002. "Determinants Of Unionisation For Part-Time Women Employees In Australian Banks," Discussion Papers Series 317, School of Economics, University of Queensland, Australia.
    3. Schnabel, Claus, 2002. "Determinants of trade union membership," Discussion Papers 15, Friedrich-Alexander-University Erlangen-Nuremberg, Chair of Labour and Regional Economics.
    4. John V. Duca & David D. VanHoose, 1998. "The rise of goods-market competition and the fall of nominal wage contracting: endogenous wage contracting in a multisector economy," Working Papers, Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas 9805, Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas.
    5. Blanchflower, David G., 2006. "A Cross-Country Study of Union Membership," IZA Discussion Papers 2016, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    6. Robin Naylor, 1995. "Unions in Decline?," Nordic Journal of Political Economy, Nordic Journal of Political Economy, Nordic Journal of Political Economy, vol. 22, pages 127-142.
    7. Dribbusch, Heiner, 2005. "Trade Union Organising in Private Sector Services : Findings from the British, Dutch and German retail industry," WSI Discussion Papers 136, Wirtschafts- und Sozialwissenschaftliches Institut (WSI), Hans-Böckler-Stiftung.


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