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Inequality and Union Membership: The Influence of Relative Earnings and Inequality Attitudes

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  • Daniele Checchi
  • Jelle Visser
  • Herman G. Van De Werfhorst

Abstract

Using surveys from the International Social Survey Programme covering the period 1985–2002 for seven European countries (West and East Germany, Sweden, Norway, Italy, the Netherlands and Great Britain), we examine the effect of relative earnings on union membership and show that union density is higher among workers in the intermediate earnings group than among low or high earners. Next, we examine the association of inequality attitudes with union membership and demonstrate that union membership is not only motivated by instrumental considerations related to relative earnings, but also by normative concerns about inequality. We interpret our findings suggesting that rising earnings inequality is in itself a source of union decline.

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  • 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.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:brjirl:v:48:y:2010:i:1:p:84-108
    DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-8543.2009.00757.x
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

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    2. Nickolaos Giovanis & Efstratios Giovanis, 2020. "Assessment On The Change Of Union Density Rate By Means Of Macroeconomic Indicators: A Quantitative Research," Noble International Journal of Economics and Financial Research, Noble Academic Publsiher, vol. 5(6), pages 63-73, June.
    3. Olivier Guillot & Magali Jaoul-Grammare & Isabelle Terraz, 2019. "Union Membership in France: An Empirical Study," Working Papers of BETA 2019-04, Bureau d'Economie Théorique et Appliquée, UDS, Strasbourg.
    4. Damian Grimshaw & Gerhard Bosch & Jill Rubery, 2014. "Minimum Wages and Collective Bargaining: What Types of Pay Bargaining Can Foster Positive Pay Equity Outcomes?," British Journal of Industrial Relations, London School of Economics, vol. 52(3), pages 470-498, September.
    5. Christopher T. Whelan & Bertrand Maître, 2012. "Understanding Material Deprivation in Europe: A Multilevel Analysis," Working Papers 201205, Geary Institute, University College Dublin.
    6. Louis Chauvel & Martin Schröder, 2017. "A Prey-Predator Model of Trade Union Density and Inequality in 12 Advanced Capitalisms over Long Periods," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 70(1), pages 3-26, February.
    7. Föll, Tobias & Hartmann, Anna, 2019. "A Joint Theory of Polarization and Deunionization," VfS Annual Conference 2019 (Leipzig): 30 Years after the Fall of the Berlin Wall - Democracy and Market Economy 203558, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.
    8. Bram Lancee & Herman Werfhorst, 2011. "GINI DP 6: Income Inequality and Participation: A Comparison of 24 European Countries," GINI Discussion Papers 6, AIAS, Amsterdam Institute for Advanced Labour Studies.
    9. Bram Wauters & Manu Mus & Steven Lannoo & Carl Devos, 2014. "Perfect match or missing link? An analysis of the representativeness of trade union representatives in Belgium," Industrial Relations Journal, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 45(5), pages 424-442, September.
    10. Christopher Whelan & Bertrand Maitre, 2012. "GINI DP 37: Understanding Material Deprivation in Europe: A Multilevel Analysis," GINI Discussion Papers 37, AIAS, Amsterdam Institute for Advanced Labour Studies.

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