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Does Union Membership Really Reduce Job Satisfaction?

  • Alex Bryson
  • Lorenzo Cappellari
  • Claudio Lucifora

We investigate the effect of union membership on job satisfaction. Using linked employer-employee data from the 1998 British Workplace Employee Relations Survey, we analyse the relationship between the membership decision and overall job satisfaction and satisfaction with pay. In this paper we account for the endogenous selection induced by the sorting of workers into unionized jobs. Controlling for both individual and establishment heterogeneity and explicitly modelling the effect of union status, we find that the marked difference in job satisfaction between unionized and non-unionized workers disappears, suggesting that a selection effect, rather than a causal effect, characterizes the relationship. Copyright Blackwell Publishing Ltd/London School of Economics 2004.

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Article provided by London School of Economics in its journal British Journal of Industrial Relations.

Volume (Year): 42 (2004)
Issue (Month): 3 (09)
Pages: 439-459

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Handle: RePEc:bla:brjirl:v:42:y:2004:i:3:p:439-459
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  1. Keith A. Bender & Peter J. Sloane, 1998. "Job satisfaction, trade unions, and exit-voice revisited," Industrial and Labor Relations Review, ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 51(2), pages 222-240, January.
  2. Burdett, Kenneth & Mortensen, Dale T, 1998. "Wage Differentials, Employer Size, and Unemployment," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 39(2), pages 257-73, May.
  3. Richard B. Freeman, 1977. "Job Satisfaction as an Economic Variable," NBER Working Papers 0225, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Clark, Andrew E. & Oswald, Andrew J., 1996. "Satisfaction and comparison income," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 61(3), pages 359-381, September.
  5. Clark, Andrew E. & Oswald, Andrew J., 1998. "Comparison-concave utility and following behaviour in social and economic settings," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 70(1), pages 133-155, October.
  6. Lorenzo Cappellari & Claudio Lucifora & Giulio Piccirilli, 2004. "Union Activism, Workers' Satisfaction and Organizational Change," LABOUR, CEIS, vol. 18(1), pages 1-28, 03.
  7. Jovanovic, Boyan, 1979. "Job Matching and the Theory of Turnover," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 87(5), pages 972-90, October.
  8. Alex Bryson, 2002. "The Union Membership Wage Premium: An Analysis Using Propensity Score Matching," CEP Discussion Papers dp0530, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
  9. Miller, Paul W, 1990. "Trade Unions and Job Satisfaction," Australian Economic Papers, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 29(55), pages 226-48, December.
  10. Joni Hersch & Joe A. Stone, 1990. "Is Union Job Dissatisfaction Real?," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 25(4).
  11. Kahneman, Daniel & Knetsch, Jack L & Thaler, Richard, 1986. "Fairness as a Constraint on Profit Seeking: Entitlements in the Market," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 76(4), pages 728-41, September.
  12. George J. Borjas, 1979. "Job Satisfaction, Wages, and Unions," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 14(1), pages 21-40.
  13. Michael E. Gordon & Angelo S. Denisi, 1995. "A re-examination of the relationship between union membership and job satisfaction," Industrial and Labor Relations Review, ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 48(2), pages 222-236, January.
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