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The Surprising Retreat of Union Britain

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  • Pencavel, John

    ()
    (Stanford University)

Abstract

After expanding in the 1970s, unionism in Britain contracted substantially over the next two decades. This paper argues that the statutory reforms in the 1980s and 1990s were of less consequence in accounting for the decline of unionism than the withdrawal of the state’s indirect support for collective bargaining. The principal goal of the reforms was to boost productivity so the paper examines the link between unions and productivity finding only a small association by the end of the 1990s. Private sector unionism has become highly decentralized which renders it vulnerable to the vagaries of market forces.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 818.

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Length: 70 pages
Date of creation: Jul 2003
Date of revision:
Publication status: published in: David Card, Richard Blundell, and Richard B. Freeman (eds.), Seeking a Premier Economy: The Economic Effects of British Economic Reforms, 1980-2000, University of Chicago Press, Chicago and London, 2004, 181-232
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp818

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Keywords: Britain; unions;

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References

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  1. Koedijk, C.G. & Kremers, J., 1996. "Market opening, regulation and growth in Europe," Open Access publications from Tilburg University, Tilburg University urn:nbn:nl:ui:12-3108676, Tilburg University.
  2. Stephen Machin, 2000. "Union decline in Britain," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library 20191, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
  3. Stewart, Mark B, 1990. "Union Wage Differentials, Product Market Influences and the Division of Rents," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, Royal Economic Society, vol. 100(403), pages 1122-37, December.
  4. Andrews, Martyn J. & Stewart, Mark B. & Swaffield, Joanna K. & Upward, Richard, 1998. "The estimation of union wage differentials and the impact of methodological choices," Labour Economics, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 5(4), pages 449-474, December.
  5. David Metcalf, 1999. "The British national minimum wage," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library 20229, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
  6. Metcalf, David & Stewart, Mark, 1992. "Closed Shops and Relative Pay: Institutional Arrangements or High Density?," Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics, Department of Economics, University of Oxford, Department of Economics, University of Oxford, vol. 54(4), pages 503-16, November.
  7. Parker, David & Martin, Stephen, 1995. "The Impact of UK Privatisation on Labour and Total Factor Productivity," Scottish Journal of Political Economy, Scottish Economic Society, Scottish Economic Society, vol. 42(2), pages 201-20, May.
  8. Metcalf, David, 1991. "British Unions: Dissolution or Resurgence?," Oxford Review of Economic Policy, Oxford University Press, Oxford University Press, vol. 7(1), pages 18-32, Spring.
  9. Disney, Richard & Gosling, Amanda & Machin, Stephen, 1996. "What Has Happened to Union Recognition in Britain?," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 63(249), pages 1-18, February.
  10. Stewart, Mark B, 1995. "Union Wage Differentials in an Era of Declining Unionization," Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics, Department of Economics, University of Oxford, Department of Economics, University of Oxford, vol. 57(2), pages 143-66, May.
  11. Richard Freeman & Jeffrey Pelletier, 1989. "The Impact of Industrial Relations Legislation on British Union Density," NBER Working Papers 3167, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. Towers, Brian, 1997. "The Representation Gap: Change and Reform in the British and American Workplace," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, Oxford University Press, number 9780198289463, October.
  13. repec:sae:niesru:v:97:y:1981:i:1:p:83-83 is not listed on IDEAS
  14. Andrews, Martyn J & Bell, David N F & Upward, Richard, 1998. "Union Coverage Differentials. Some Estimates for Britain Using the New Earnings Survey Panel Dataset," Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics, Department of Economics, University of Oxford, Department of Economics, University of Oxford, vol. 60(1), pages 47-77, February.
  15. Jonathan Aylen, 1982. "Plant Size and Efficiency in the Steel Industry: an International Comparison," National Institute Economic Review, National Institute of Economic and Social Research, National Institute of Economic and Social Research, vol. 100(1), pages 65-76, May.
  16. Haskel, Jonathan, 1991. "Imperfect Competition, Work Practices and Productivity Growth," Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics, Department of Economics, University of Oxford, Department of Economics, University of Oxford, vol. 53(3), pages 265-79, August.
  17. Stephen Machin & M Stewart, 1995. "Trade Unions and Financial Performance," CEP Discussion Papers, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE dp0242, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
  18. David Metcalf, 1999. "The British National Minimum Wage," CEP Discussion Papers, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE dp0419, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
  19. Stewart, Mark B, 1986. "Collective Bargaining Arrangements Closed Shops and Relative Pay," The Warwick Economics Research Paper Series (TWERPS), University of Warwick, Department of Economics 273, University of Warwick, Department of Economics.
  20. Stewart, Mark B, 1991. "Union Wage Differentials in the Face of Changes in the Economic and Legal Environment," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 58(230), pages 155-72, May.
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