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Innis Lecture: Unions and the Economy: What We Know; What We Should Know

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  • Peter Kuhn

Abstract

The wages and working conditions of about one in three Canadian workers are determined by collective bargaining. In this paper, current knowledge about the economic effects of collective bargaining is surveyed. Unions raise wages (by about 15 percent on average) and reduce wage dispersion for their members while also reducing profits. Unions do not seem to reduce employment levels in affected firms or cause nonunion wages to fall. Efficiency losses due to sectoral misallocation of labor and to strikes are small but some evidence suggests lowered investment in unionized firms. Union effects on total factor productivity need more careful study using firm-level data.

Suggested Citation

  • Peter Kuhn, 1998. "Innis Lecture: Unions and the Economy: What We Know; What We Should Know," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 31(5), pages 1033-1056, November.
  • Handle: RePEc:cje:issued:v:31:y:1998:i:5:p:1033-1056
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Metcalf, David, 2002. "Unions and productivity, financial performance and investment: international evidence," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 20072, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    2. Nicholas Lawson, 2011. "Is Collective Bargaining Pareto Efficient? A Survey of the Literature," Journal of Labor Research, Springer, vol. 32(3), pages 282-304, September.
    3. Lu, Yi & Tao, Zhigang & Wang, Yijiang, 2010. "Union effects on performance and employment relations: Evidence from China," China Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 21(1), pages 202-210, March.
    4. Legree, Scott & Schirle, Tammy & Skuterud, Mikal, 2014. "The Effect of Labour Relations Laws on Union Density Rates: Evidence from Canadian Provinces," CLSSRN working papers clsrn_admin-2014-42, Vancouver School of Economics, revised 22 Sep 2014.
    5. Greer, Mark, 2009. "Is it the labor unions' fault? Dissecting the causes of the impaired technical efficiencies of the legacy carriers in the United States," Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice, Elsevier, vol. 43(9-10), pages 779-789, November.
    6. repec:col:000442:015650 is not listed on IDEAS
    7. Jaime Saavedra-Chanduví & Máximo Torero, 2002. "Union Density Changes and Union Effects On Firm Performance in Peru," Research Department Publications 3158, Inter-American Development Bank, Research Department.
    8. Charness, Gary & Kuhn, Peter, 2011. "Lab Labor: What Can Labor Economists Learn from the Lab?," Handbook of Labor Economics, Elsevier.
    9. repec:eee:quaeco:v:67:y:2018:i:c:p:326-333 is not listed on IDEAS
    10. Fernando Rios-Avila, 2017. "Unions and Economic Performance in Developing Countries: Case Studies from Latin America," REVISTA ECOS DE ECONOMÍA, UNIVERSIDAD EAFIT, vol. 21(44), pages 4-36, June.
    11. Devicienti, Francesco & Manello, Alessandro & Vannoni, Davide, 2017. "Technical efficiency, unions and decentralized labor contracts," European Journal of Operational Research, Elsevier, vol. 260(3), pages 1129-1141.
    12. repec:bla:indres:v:56:y:2017:i:4:p:605-639 is not listed on IDEAS

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • J5 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Labor-Management Relations, Trade Unions, and Collective Bargaining

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