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The Decentralization of Wage Bargaining: Four Cases


Author Info

  • Karlson, Nils

    (The Ratio Institute)

  • Lindberg, Henrik

    (The Ratio Institute)


The paper contributes to the discussion about the possible trends and processes towards decentralization of wage bargaining or wage setting within the OECD-countries since the 1970s. Based on a data set of 16 OECD countries from 1950 to 2000 our results show that in terms of bargaining level the trend is clear towards decentralization since the 1970s, even though there are important exceptions. In terms of confederal involvement the major decrease occurs among the Nordic countries and the Netherlands, whereas many of the other countries have had a status quo more or less. In terms of government involvement, however, the change is the almost non-existent. The overall tendency is still towards less centralisation, even though a number of countries have not changed or have moved in the opposite direction. Sweden, Denmark, UK and the Netherlands experience the largest decreases in decentralization overall. The processes of decentralization of wage bargaining look very differently in each country. It may occur through changes in the collective agreements themselves or through individual wage-setting outside the system of collective agreements. And the decentralization process may occur both in a context of cooperation between the labor-market organizations or in a setting of conflicts.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by The Ratio Institute in its series Ratio Working Papers with number 178.

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Length: 31 pages
Date of creation: 19 Sep 2011
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:hhs:ratioi:0178

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Postal: The Ratio Institute, P.O. Box 5095, SE-102 42 Stockholm, Sweden
Phone: 08-441 59 00
Fax: 08-441 59 29
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Related research

Keywords: Wage bargaining; wage setting; collective agreements; centralization; decentralization; labour market models; OECD;

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  1. Robert Plasman & Michael Rusinek & François Rycx, 2006. "Wages and the bargaining regime under multi-level bargaining: Belgium, Denmark and Spain," DULBEA Working Papers 06-01.RS., ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
  2. Robert Kilroy-Silk, 1969. "The Royal Commission on Trade Unions and Employers' Associations," Industrial and Labor Relations Review, ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 22(4), pages 544-558, July.
  3. Moene, K.O. & Wallerstein, M. & Hoel, M., 1992. "Bargaining Structure and Economic Performance," Memorandum 10/1992, Oslo University, Department of Economics.
  4. Christian M. Dahl & Daniel le Maire & Jakob R. Munch, 2011. "Wage Dispersion and Decentralization of Wage Bargaining," CREATES Research Papers 2011-48, School of Economics and Management, University of Aarhus.
  5. Lena Granqvist & H�kan Regnér, 2008. "Decentralized Wage Formation in Sweden," British Journal of Industrial Relations, London School of Economics, vol. 46(3), pages 500-520, 09.
  6. Harry C. Katz, 1993. "The decentralization of collective bargaining: A literature review and comparative analysis," Industrial and Labor Relations Review, ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 47(1), pages 3-22, October.
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