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Unions, Dynamism, and Economic Performance

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  • Hirsch, Barry

    ()
    (Georgia State University)

Abstract

This paper explores the relationship between economic performance and US unionism, focusing first on what we do and do not know based on empirical research handicapped by limited data on establishment and firm level collective bargaining coverage. Evidence on the relationship of unions with wages, productivity, profitability, investment, debt, employment growth, and business failures are all relevant in assessing the future of unions and public policy with respect to unions. A reasonably coherent story emerges from the empirical literature, albeit one that rests heavily on evidence that is dated and (arguably) unable to identify truly causal effects. The paper’s principal thesis is that union decline has been tied fundamentally to competitive forces and economic dynamism. Implications of these findings for labor law policy and the future of worker voice institutions is discussed briefly in a final section.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 5342.

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Length: 48 pages
Date of creation: Nov 2010
Date of revision:
Publication status: published in: Cynthia Estlund and Michael Wachter (eds.), Research Handbook on the Economics of Labor and Employment Law, Edward Elgar, 2012, pp. 107-145
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp5342

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Keywords: economic performance; unions; dynamism; competition;

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References

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  1. Nick Bloom & John Van Reenen, 2006. "Measuring and explaining management practices across firms and countries," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library 733, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
  2. Hirsch, Barry T & Macpherson, David A, 2000. "Earnings, Rents, and Competition in the Airline Labor Market," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, University of Chicago Press, vol. 18(1), pages 125-55, January.
  3. Peter Cramton & Joseph S. Tracy, 1998. "The Use of Replacement Workers in Union Contract Negotiations: The U.S. Experience, 1980-1989," Papers of Peter Cramton 98jole, University of Maryland, Department of Economics - Peter Cramton, revised 09 Jun 1998.
  4. Booth,Alison L., 1994. "The Economics of the Trade Union," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521464673.
  5. David Card & Francesco Devicienti & Agata Maida, 2014. "Rent-sharing, Holdup, and Wages: Evidence from Matched Panel Data," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 81(1), pages 84-111.
  6. Addison, John T. & Schnabel, Claus & Wagner, Joachim, 2003. "The course of research into the economic consequences of German works councils," Discussion Papers 22, Friedrich-Alexander-University Erlangen-Nuremberg, Chair of Labour and Regional Economics.
  7. Macpherson, D.A. & Dunne, T., 1992. "Unionism and Gross Employment Flows," Working Papers, Department of Economics, Florida State University 1992_10_5, Department of Economics, Florida State University.
  8. Addison, John T & Hirsch, Barry T, 1989. "Union Effects on Productivity, Profits, and Growth: Has the Long Run Arrived?," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, University of Chicago Press, vol. 7(1), pages 72-105, January.
  9. Bernt Bratsberg & James F. Ragan & Jr, 2002. "Changes in the union wage premium by industry," Industrial and Labor Relations Review, ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 56(1), pages 65-83, October.
  10. Connolly, Robert A & Hirsch, Barry T & Hirschey, Mark, 1986. "Union Rent Seeking, Intangible Capital, and Market Value of the Firm," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 68(4), pages 567-77, November.
  11. John T. Addison & John S. Heywood & Xiangdong Wei, 2003. "New Evidence on Unions and Plant Closings: Britain in the 1990s," Southern Economic Journal, Southern Economic Association, vol. 69(4), pages 822-841, April.
  12. James T. Bennett & Bruce E. Kaufman, 2004. "What Do Unions Do?: A Twenty-Year Perspective," Journal of Labor Research, Transaction Publishers, Transaction Publishers, vol. 25(3), pages 339-350, July.
  13. Steven J. Davis & R. Jason Faberman & John Haltiwanger, 2006. "The Flow Approach to Labor Markets: New Data Sources and Micro-Macro Links," NBER Working Papers 12167, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  14. Addison, John T. & Bryson, Alex & Teixeira, Paulino & Pahnke, André & Bellmann, Lutz, 2010. "The State of Collective Bargaining and Worker Representation in Germany: The Erosion Continues," IZA Discussion Papers 5030, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  15. Barry T. Hirsch, 1991. "Labor Unions and the Economic Performance of Unions," Books from Upjohn Press, W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research, W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research, number luepf.
  16. David Blanchflower & Alex Bryson, 2002. "Changes over time in union relative wage effects in the UK and the US revisited," NBER Working Papers 9395, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  17. Steven G. Allen, 1983. "Unionization and Productivity in Office Building and School Construction," NBER Working Papers 1139, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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