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Why Have Workers Stopped Joining Unions? The Rise in Never-Membership in Britain

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  • Alex Bryson
  • Rafael Gomez

Abstract

This paper tracks the rise in the percentage of employees who have never become union members ('never-member') since the early 1980s and shows that it is the reduced likelihood of ever becoming a member, rather than the haemorrhaging of existing members, that is behind the decline in overall union membership in Britain. We estimate the determinants of 'never-membership' and consider how much of the rise can be explained by structural change in the labour market and how much by change in preferences among employees. Copyright Blackwell Publishing Ltd/London School of Economics 2005.

Suggested Citation

  • Alex Bryson & Rafael Gomez, 2005. "Why Have Workers Stopped Joining Unions? The Rise in Never-Membership in Britain," British Journal of Industrial Relations, London School of Economics, vol. 43(1), pages 67-92, March.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:brjirl:v:43:y:2005:i:1:p:67-92
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Henry S. Farber, 2001. "Notes on the Economics of Labor Unions," Working Papers 831, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
    2. Alex Bryson, 2001. "Union Effects on Workplace Governance 1983 -1998," PSI Research Discussion Series 8, Policy Studies Institute, UK.
    3. Henry S. Farber, 2001. "Notes on the Economics of Labor Unions," Working Papers 831, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
    4. repec:fth:prinin:452 is not listed on IDEAS
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    Cited by:

    1. John T. Addison & Alex Bryson & Paulino Teixeira & André Pahnke, 2011. "Slip Sliding Away: Further Union Decline In Germany And Britain," Scottish Journal of Political Economy, Scottish Economic Society, vol. 58(4), pages 490-518, September.
    2. John T. Addison & Alex Bryson & Paulino Teixeira & André Pahnke & Lutz Bellmann, 2013. "The Extent of Collective Bargaining and Workplace Representation: Transitions between States and their Determinants. A Comparative Analysis of Germany and Great Britain," Scottish Journal of Political Economy, Scottish Economic Society, vol. 60(2), pages 182-209, May.
    3. Glynne Williams & Martin Quinn, 2014. "Macmillan's children? Young workers and trade unions in the early 1960s," Industrial Relations Journal, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 45(2), pages 137-152, March.
    4. Rupayan PAL, 2010. "Impact Of Communist Parties On The Individual Decision To Join A Trade Union: Evidence From India," The Developing Economies, Institute of Developing Economies, vol. 48(4), pages 496-528, December.
    5. Schnabel, Claus & Wagner, Joachim, 2005. "Who Are the Workers Who Never Joined a Union? Empirical Evidence from Germany," IZA Discussion Papers 1658, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    6. Magali Jaoul-Grammare & Isabelle Terraz, 2010. "Syndicalisation et croissance économique : y a-t-il une exception française ?," Working Papers of BETA 2010-25, Bureau d'Economie Théorique et Appliquée, UDS, Strasbourg.
    7. Jeremy Waddington & Allan Kerr, 2015. "Joining UNISON: does the reform of a union organising strategy change how members perceive their recruitment?," Industrial Relations Journal, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 46(3), pages 187-207, May.
    8. Jonathan E. Booth & John W. Budd & Kristen M. Munday, 2010. "Never Say Never? Uncovering the Never-Unionized in the United States," British Journal of Industrial Relations, London School of Economics, vol. 48(1), pages 26-52, March.
    9. Petri Böckerman & Roope Uusitalo, 2005. "Union membership and the erosion of the Ghent system: Lessons from Finland," Labor and Demography 0508008, EconWPA.
    10. Jeremy Waddington & Allan Kerr, 2009. "Transforming a Trade Union? An Assessment of the Introduction of an Organizing Initiative," British Journal of Industrial Relations, London School of Economics, vol. 47(1), pages 27-54, March.
    11. Daniele Checchi & Jelle Visser & Herman G. van de Werfhorst, 2010. "Inequality and Union Membership: The Influence of Relative Earnings and Inequality Attitudes," British Journal of Industrial Relations, London School of Economics, vol. 48(1), pages 84-108, March.
    12. Melanie Simms, 2013. "Special Issue. Edited by: Gregor Murray, Christian Lévesque, Christian Dufour and Adelheid Hege," Industrial Relations Journal, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 44(4), pages 373-388, July.
    13. Bryson, Alex & Freeman, Richard B. & Gomez, Rafael & Willman, Paul, 2017. "The Twin Track Model of Employee Voice: An Anglo-American Perspective on Union Decline and the Rise of Alternative Forms of Voice," IZA Discussion Papers 11223, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    14. repec:bla:apacel:v:30:y:2016:i:2:p:45-56 is not listed on IDEAS

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