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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. Copyright (c) Blackwell Publishing Ltd/London School of Economics 2009.

Suggested Citation

  • 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
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Veliziotis, Michail, 2010. "Trade unions and unpaid overtime in Britain," ISER Working Paper Series 2010-43, Institute for Social and Economic Research.
    2. Christopher T. Whelan & Bertrand Maître, 2012. "Understanding Material Deprivation in Europe: A Multilevel Analysis," Working Papers 201205, Geary Institute, University College Dublin.
    3. repec:bla:kyklos:v:70:y:2017:i:1:p:3-26 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. 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.
    5. 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.
    6. 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.
    7. 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.

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