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Politics Matter: Changes in Unionization Rates in Rich Countries, 1960-2010

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  • John Schmitt
  • Alexandra Mitukiewicz

Abstract

Researchers have offered several explanations for the decline in unionization. Many emphasize that “globalization” and the technological advances embodied in the “new economy” have made unions obsolete. However, if the decline in unionization is the inevitable response to the twin forces of globalization and technology, then we would expect unionization rates to follow a similar path in countries subjected to roughly similar levels of globalization and technology. This paper looks union membership and coverage for 21 rich economies, including the United States, and finds over the last five decades a wide range of trends in union membership and collective bargaining. The national political environment, not globalization or technology, is the most important factor driving long-run changes in unionization rates in the United States.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR) in its series CEPR Reports and Issue Briefs with number 2011-24.

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Length: 21 pages
Date of creation: Nov 2011
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:epo:papers:2011-24

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Keywords: unions; unionization; globalization; technology;

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References

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Cited by:
  1. Schnabel, Claus, 2012. "Union Membership and Density: Some (Not So) Stylized Facts and Challenges," IZA Discussion Papers 6792, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  2. Unal Tongur & Adem Yavuz Elveren, 2013. "Deunionization and Pay Inequality in OECD Countries: A Panel Granger Causality Approach," ERC Working Papers 1306, ERC - Economic Research Center, Middle East Technical University, revised May 2013.
  3. Daron Acemoglu & James A. Robinson, 2013. "Economics versus Politics: Pitfalls of Policy Advice," NBER Working Papers 18921, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

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