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Factors of Convergence and Divergence in Union Membership

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  • Stephen Machin

Abstract

This paper considers to what extent union decline in Britain has been characterised by convergence or divergence in union membership rates for people with different personal and job characteristics. It compares data on individual union membership in 1975, from a period when union membership was high and growing, to data in 2001 data when it is low and has been falling for over twenty years. Some factors of both convergence and divergence are identified. The clearest individual characteristic of convergence is gender. In 1975 there was a big male-female gap in union membership, whilst by 2001 one cannot reject the hypothesis that union membership rates were equal for men and women. The clearest case of divergence is age where the 1975-2001 period sees a widening of the age gap in union membership status. Other factors of convergence are the full- time/part-time status of jobs, ethnicity and workplace size. Other factors of divergence are industry and educational qualifications. Some other factors (like region) are neutral in that their relationship with union membership remains stable through time. Identification of these factors of convergence and divergence should be useful to many parties, including industrial relations scholars and union organisers. Finally, the fact that the magnitude of the relationships between union membership and a number of its determinants have shifted through time illustrates that one should be careful if one wishes to talk about empirical regularities in who is more or less likely to become a trade union member.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Centre for Economic Performance, LSE in its series CEP Discussion Papers with number dp0554.

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Date of creation: Nov 2002
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Handle: RePEc:cep:cepdps:dp0554

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Web page: http://cep.lse.ac.uk/_new/publications/series.asp?prog=CEP

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  1. Stephen J Nickell & Stephen Redding & Joanna Swaffield, 2002. "Educational attainment, labour market institutions, and the structure of production," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 3706, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
  2. Duranton, Gilles, 2002. "City Size Distributions as a Consequence of the Growth Process," CEPR Discussion Papers 3577, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  3. Maria Guadalupe, 2002. "The hidden costs of fixed term contracts: the impact on work accidents," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 20064, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
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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. A Charlwood, 2003. "The Anatomy of Union Decline in Britain: 1990-1998," CEP Discussion Papers dp0601, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
  3. Blanchflower, David G., 2006. "A Cross-Country Study of Union Membership," IZA Discussion Papers 2016, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  4. Manquilef-Bächler, Alejandra A. & Arulampalam, Wiji & Smith, Jennifer C., 2009. "Differences in Decline: Quantile Regression Analysis of Union Wage Differentials in the United Kingdom, 1991-2003," IZA Discussion Papers 4138, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  5. Jo Blanden & Stephen Machin & John Van Reenen, 2005. "New survey evidence on recent changes in UK union recognition," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 768, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.

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