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Changes Over Time in Union Relative Wage Effects in Great Britain and the United States

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  • David G. Blanchflower

Abstract

This paper uses broadly comparable micro data at the level of the individual to examine the extent to which union relative wage effects vary across groups and through time. The main findings may be summarized as follows. a) The union wage gap averages 15% in the US and 10% in Great Britain. b) The gap is positively correlated with the (lagged) unemployment rate, and appears to be untrended in both countries. Union wages are sticky. c) The size of the wage gap varies across groups. In both the US and Great Britain the differential is relatively high in the private sector, in non-manufacturing, for manuals, the young and the least educated. d) In the US there are no differences by race or gender in the size of the differential. In Great Britain it is higher both for women and non-whites. The fact that the differential has remained more or less constant in both Great Britain and the US is a puzzle, particularly given the rapid declines in union membership in both countries. The evidence does not appear to be consistent with the widely held view that union power has been emasculated.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 6100.

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Date of creation: Jul 1997
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Publication status: published as "Unionism in the United States and Other Advanced OECD Countries", Industrial Relations, Vol. 31, no. 1 (January 1992): 56-79.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:6100

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  1. Costas MEGHIR & Annette RYAN & John VAN REENEN, 1996. "Job Creation, Technological Innovation and Adjustment Costs: Evidence from a Panel of British Firms," Annales d'Economie et de Statistique, ENSAE, issue 41-42, pages 255-274.
  2. Wayne Simpson, 1985. "The Impact of Unions on the Structure of Canadian Wages: An Empirical Analysis with Microdata," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 18(1), pages 164-81, February.
  3. Schmidt, Christoph M & Zimmermann, Klaus F, 1991. "Work Characteristics, Firm Size and Wages," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 73(4), pages 705-10, November.
  4. Main, Brian G M & Reilly, Barry, 1992. "Women and the Union Wage Gap," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 102(410), pages 49-66, January.
  5. Stewart, Mark B, 1987. "Collective Bargaining Arrangements, Closed Shops and Relative Pay," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 97(385), pages 140-56, March.
  6. Blanchflower, D., 1989. "Fear, Unemployment And Pay Flexibility," Papers 344, London School of Economics - Centre for Labour Economics.
  7. E. Kenneth Grant & Robert Swidinsky & John Vanderkamp, 1987. "Canadian union-nonunion wage differentials," Industrial and Labor Relations Review, ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 41(1), pages 93-107, October.
  8. Peter G. Moll, 1993. "Black South African unions: Relative wage and inequality effects in international perspective," Industrial and Labor Relations Review, ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 46(2), pages 245-261, January.
  9. 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, vol. 54(4), pages 503-16, November.
  10. David BLANCHFLOWER & Stephen MACHIN, 1996. "Product Market Competition Wages and Productivity: International Evidence from Establishment-Level Data," Annales d'Economie et de Statistique, ENSAE, issue 41-42, pages 219-253.
  11. David G. Blanchflower & Andrew J. Oswald, 1995. "The Wage Curve," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 026202375x, December.
  12. Lawrence F. Katz & Gary W. Loveman & David G. Blanchflower, 1995. "A Comparison of Changes in the Structure of Wages in Four OECD Countries," NBER Chapters, in: Differences and Changes in Wage Structures, pages 25-66 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  13. Schmidt, Christoph M, 1994. "Relative Wage Effects of German Unions," CEPR Discussion Papers 918, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  14. Richard B. Freeman, 1983. "Longitudinal Analyses of the Effects of Trade Unions," NBER Working Papers 1207, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  15. 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, vol. 57(2), pages 143-66, May.
  16. Blackaby, D. H. & Murphy, P. D. & Sloane, P. J., 1991. "Union membership, collective bargaining coverage and the trade union mark-up for Britain," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 36(2), pages 203-208, June.
  17. Lawrence F. Katz & Gary W. Loveman & David G. Blanchflower, 1993. "A Comparison of Changes in the Structure of Wages," NBER Working Papers 4297, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  18. Blanchflower, David G & Oswald, Andrew J, 1990. "The Determination of White-Collar Pay," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 42(2), pages 356-78, April.
  19. Main, Brian G M & Reilly, Barry, 1993. "The Employer Size-Wage Gap: Evidence for Britain," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 60(238), pages 125-42, May.
  20. Stephen B. Jarrell & T. D. Stanley, 1990. "A meta-analysis of the union-nonunion wage gap," Industrial and Labor Relations Review, ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 44(1), pages 54-67, October.
  21. Ingram, Peter N, 1991. "Ten Years of Manufacturing Wage Settlements: 1979-89," Oxford Review of Economic Policy, Oxford University Press, vol. 7(1), pages 93-106, Spring.
  22. David G. Blanchflower & Richard B. Freeman, 1993. "Did the Thatcher Reforms Change British Labour Performance?," NBER Working Papers 4384, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  23. Green, Francis, 1988. "The trade union wage gap in Britain: Some new estimates," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 27(2), pages 183-187.
  24. Stewart, Mark B, 1983. "Relative Earnings and Individual Union Membership in the United Kingdom," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 50(198), pages 111-25, May.
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Cited by:
  1. Paula Armstrong & Janca Steenkamp, 2008. "South African Trade Unions: an Overview for 1995 to 2005," Working Papers 10/2008, Stellenbosch University, Department of Economics.
  2. 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.
  3. Barry T. Hirsch & Edward J. Schumacher, 2000. "Private Sector Union Density and the Wage Premium: Past, Present, and Future," Working Papers 0015, East Carolina University, Department of Economics.
  4. Geeta Gandhi Kingdon & John Knight, 2006. "How flexible are wages in response to local unemployment in South Africa?," Industrial and Labor Relations Review, ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 59(3), pages 471-495, April.
  5. Robert Feenstra, 2003. "Integration Of Trade And Disintegration Of Production In The Global Economy," Working Papers 986, University of California, Davis, Department of Economics.
  6. Geeta Kingdon & John Knight, 1999. "Unemployment and wages in South Africa: a spatial approach," Economics Series Working Papers WPS/1999-12, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
  7. Barry T. Hirsch & Edward J. Schumacher, 2004. "Match Bias in Wage Gap Estimates Due to Earnings Imputation," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 22(3), pages 689-722, July.
  8. Pablo Ruiz Verdú, 2002. "Employer Behavior When Workers Can Unionize," Business Economics Working Papers wb020803, Universidad Carlos III, Departamento de Economía de la Empresa.
  9. Frank Scharr, 2005. "Tarifbindung, Rententeilung und Konzessionsverträge als Einflussgrößen der Lohnhöhe in Unternehmen : eine Untersuchung mit Mikrodaten für thüringische Firmen," ifo Dresden Studien, Ifo Institute for Economic Research at the University of Munich, number 39.
  10. David Blanchflower & Alex Bryson, 2004. "The Union Wage Premium in the US and the UK," CEP Discussion Papers dp0612, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
  11. Addison, John T. & Belfield, Clive R., 2002. "Unions and Establishment Performance: Evidence from the British Workplace Industrial/Employee Relations Surveys," IZA Discussion Papers 455, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).

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