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Union membership and density: Some (not so) stylized facts and challenges

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  • Schnabel, Claus

Abstract

Surveying some recent data and the empirical literature from various disciplines, this paper attempts to shed some light on what we know and don't know about (trends in) unionization and its determinants in advanced countries. It shows that there are relatively few robust stylized facts, for instance that unionization is positively related to public sector employment, to establishment size and to the business cycle (with union growth being procyclical). The existence of a unionadministered unemployment insurance and unions' presence at the workplace also play a positive role for (changes in) unionization. However, some seemingly obvious explanations for the decline in unionization over the last decades do not hold on closer scrutiny. Various trends like the ongoing economic globalization and changes in the sectoral structure of the economy and the composition of the workforce do not seem to have impeded union membership and density everywhere. Similarly, the trend towards decentralization of collective bargaining has not resulted in large-scale deunionization. It also remains an open question whether changes in social values, rising individualism, and changing attitudes of employees towards unions have affected or will affect unionization negatively. -- Anhand von aktuellen Daten und der empirischen Literatur mehrerer Fachrichtungen arbeitet dieser Survey heraus, was wir über den gewerkschaftlichen Organisationsgrad und seine Determinanten in entwickelten Ländern (nicht) wissen. Er zeigt, dass die Mitgliederstärke positiv mit der Beschäftigung im öffentlichen Sektor, der Firmengröße und dem Konjunkturzyklus zusammenhängt. Auch die Existenz einer gewerkschaftlich verwalteten Arbeitslosenversicherung und die Präsenz von Gewerkschaften am Arbeitsplatz spielen eine positive Rolle für den Organisationsgrad bzw. seine Veränderung. Dagegen scheinen verschiedene Trends wie Globalisierung, sektoraler Strukturwandel, Änderungen der Beschäftigtenstruktur und Dezentralisierung von Tarifverhandlungen nicht überall die Mitgliederzahlen und den Organisationsgrad beeinträchtigt zu haben. Eine offene Frage ist, ob Veränderungen von Werten und Einstellungen der Arbeitnehmer sowie Individualisierungstendenzen die gewerkschaftliche Organisierung negativ beeinflussen.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Friedrich-Alexander-University Erlangen-Nuremberg, Chair of Labour and Regional Economics in its series Discussion Papers with number 81.

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Date of creation: 2012
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Handle: RePEc:zbw:faulre:81

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Web page: http://www.arbeitsmarkt.wiso.uni-erlangen.de/english-version/
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Keywords: trade unions; union membership; union density; unionization;

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Cited by:
  1. 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.

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