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Why So Unhappy? The Effects of Unionization on Job Satisfaction

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  • Alex Bryson
  • Lorenzo Cappellari
  • Claudio Lucifora

Abstract

Using linked employer–employee data we investigate the job satisfaction effect of union membership in Britain. We develop a model that simultaneously controls for the determinants of individual membership status and for the selection of employees into occupations according to union coverage. We find a negative association between membership and satisfaction. However, having accounted for selection effects, we find that the negative association is confined to non‐covered employees. This is consistent with ‘voice’ effects, whereby non‐covered members voice dissatisfaction to achieve union goals, and with the possibility that membership increases preferences for collective bargaining, thus lowering members’ satisfaction in non‐covered environments.

Suggested Citation

  • Alex Bryson & Lorenzo Cappellari & Claudio Lucifora, 2010. "Why So Unhappy? The Effects of Unionization on Job Satisfaction," Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics, Department of Economics, University of Oxford, vol. 72(3), pages 357-380, June.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:obuest:v:72:y:2010:i:3:p:357-380
    DOI: 10.1111/j.1468-0084.2010.00587.x
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Alex Bryson & Lorenzo Cappellari & Claudio Lucifora, 2004. "Does Union Membership Really Reduce Job Satisfaction?," British Journal of Industrial Relations, London School of Economics, vol. 42(3), pages 439-459, September.
    2. Michael E. Gordon & Angelo S. Denisi, 1995. "A Re-Examination of the Relationship between Union Membership and Job Satisfaction," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 48(2), pages 222-236, January.
    3. Alison L. Booth & Mark L. Bryan, 2004. "The Union Membership Wage-Premium Puzzle: Is There a Free Rider Problem?," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 57(3), pages 402-421, April.
    4. Stewart, Mark B, 1987. "Collective Bargaining Arrangements, Closed Shops and Relative Pay," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 97(385), pages 140-156, March.
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    8. Alex Bryson & Richard B. Freeman, 2006. "Worker Needs and Voice in the US and the UK," NBER Working Papers 12310, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    9. Clark, Andrew E. & Oswald, Andrew J., 1996. "Satisfaction and comparison income," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 61(3), pages 359-381, September.
    10. Stephen Machin, 2000. "Union Decline in Britain," British Journal of Industrial Relations, London School of Economics, vol. 38(4), pages 631-645, December.
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    17. John S. Heywood & W. S. Siebert & Xiangdong Wei, 2002. "Worker Sorting and Job Satisfaction: The Case of Union and Government Jobs," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 55(4), pages 595-609, July.
    18. Bryson, Alex & Gomez, Rafael, 2003. "Segmentation, switching costs and the demand for unionization in Britain," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 4947, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    19. Joni Hersch & Joe A. Stone, 1990. "Is Union Job Dissatisfaction Real?," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 25(4).
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    1. repec:lan:wpaper:2914 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Alex Bryson & Richard Freeman, 2013. "Employee Perceptions of Working Conditions and the Desire for Worker Representation in Britain and the US," Journal of Labor Research, Springer, vol. 34(1), pages 1-29, March.
    3. Bryson, Alex & Dale-Olsen, Harald & Barth, Erling, 2009. "How does innovation affect worker well-being?," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 27781, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    4. 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.
    5. C Green & J S Heywood, 2010. "Unions, Dissatisfied Workers and Sorting," Working Papers 615292, Lancaster University Management School, Economics Department.
    6. Damiano Fiorillo & Nunzia Nappo, 2014. "Job satisfaction in Italy: individual characteristics and social relations," International Journal of Social Economics, Emerald Group Publishing, vol. 41(8), pages 683-704, August.
    7. Benjamin Artz, 2010. "Fringe benefits and job satisfaction," International Journal of Manpower, Emerald Group Publishing, vol. 31(6), pages 626-644, September.
    8. Madhu S. Mohanty, 2019. "Role of psychological variables in the determination of the worker's wage: Further evidence from the United States," Australian Economic Papers, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 58(1), pages 54-77, March.
    9. repec:lan:wpaper:2912 is not listed on IDEAS
    10. Addison, John T. & Teixeira, Paulino, 2019. "Strikes, employee workplace representation, unionism, and industrial relations quality in European establishments," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 159(C), pages 109-133.
    11. repec:lan:wpaper:3161 is not listed on IDEAS
    12. Haile, Getinet & Bryson, Alex & White, Michael, 2015. "Spillover effects of unionisation on non-members' wellbeing," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 35(C), pages 108-122.
    13. Keith A. Bender & Kristen Roche, 2016. "Self-employment and the paradox of the contented female worker," Small Business Economics, Springer, vol. 47(2), pages 421-435, August.
    14. Madhu S. Mohanty, 2018. "Does Positive Attitude Matter Only for Older Workers? Evidence from Simultaneous Estimation of Job Satisfaction, Wage and Positive Attitude in the United States," Journal of Happiness Studies, Springer, vol. 19(8), pages 2373-2404, December.
    15. Colin Peter Green & John Spencer Heywood & Parvinder Kler & Gareth Leeves, 2016. "Paradox lost," Working Papers 107134075, Lancaster University Management School, Economics Department.
    16. Yuliya Frolova, 2014. "What Job will Bring Satisfaction? An Analysis based on Responses of Students Studying Business in Kazakhstan," Eurasian Journal of Business and Management, Eurasian Publications, vol. 2(2), pages 25-49.
    17. Haile, Getinet Astatike & Bryson, Alex & White, Michael, 2012. "Heterogeneity in Union Status and Employee Well-Being," IZA Discussion Papers 7075, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    18. Mark Gius, 2013. "The effects of merit pay on teacher job satisfaction," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 45(31), pages 4443-4451, November.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • J28 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Safety; Job Satisfaction; Related Public Policy
    • J51 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Labor-Management Relations, Trade Unions, and Collective Bargaining - - - Trade Unions: Objectives, Structure, and Effects

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