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Deunionization, technical change and inequality

  • Acemoglu, Daron
  • Aghion, Philippe
  • Violante, Giovanni L.

We argue that inequality and rapid deunionization are related, and that skill-biased technical change has been an important factor in deunionization as well as in the rise in inequality. Skill-biased technical change causes deunionization because it increases the outside option of skilled workers, undermining the coalition among skilled and unskilled worker in support of unions. Our approach implies that although deunionization is not the underlying cause of the increase in inequality, it amplifies the direct effect of skill-biased technical change by removing the wage compression imposed by unions. We also show that deunionization may happen inefficiently.

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Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Carnegie-Rochester Conference Series on Public Policy.

Volume (Year): 55 (2001)
Issue (Month): 1 (December)
Pages: 229-264

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Handle: RePEc:eee:crcspp:v:55:y:2001:i:1:p:229-264
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/jme

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  1. Daron Acemoglu, 1998. "Why Do New Technologies Complement Skills? Directed Technical Change and Wage Inequality," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 113(4), pages 1055-1089.
  2. Freeman, Richard B, 1988. "Contraction and Expansion: The Divergence of Private Sector and Public Sector Unionism in the United States," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 2(2), pages 63-88, Spring.
  3. Per Krusell & Lee E. Ohanian & JosÈ-Victor RÌos-Rull & Giovanni L. Violante, 2000. "Capital-Skill Complementarity and Inequality: A Macroeconomic Analysis," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 68(5), pages 1029-1054, September.
  4. Booth, Alison L, 1991. "Job-Related Formal Training: Who Receives It and What Is It Worth?," Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics, Department of Economics, University of Oxford, vol. 53(3), pages 281-94, August.
  5. Nicole M. Fortin & Thomas Lemieux, 1997. "Institutional Changes and Rising Wage Inequality: Is There a Linkage?," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 11(2), pages 75-96, Spring.
  6. Daron Acemoglu, 2000. "Technical Change, Inequality, and the Labor Market," NBER Working Papers 7800, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. David H. Autor & Lawrence F. Katz & Alan B. Krueger, 1997. "Computing Inequality: Have Computers Changed the Labor Market?," NBER Working Papers 5956, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Francis Green & Stephen Machin & David Wilkinson, 1999. "Trade Unions and Training Practices in British Workplaces," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 52(2), pages 179-195, January.
  9. Richard B. Freeman & Edward P. Lazear, 1995. "An Economic Analysis of Works Councils," NBER Chapters, in: Works Councils: Consultation, Representation, and Cooperation in Industrial Relations, pages 27-52 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Riddell, W.C., 1993. "Unionization in Canada and the United States: A Tale of Two Countries," Papers 1993-1, Queen's at Kingston - Sch. of Indus. Relat. Papers in Industrial Relations.
  11. Berman, E. & Bound, J. & Machin, S., 1997. "Implications of Skill-Biased Technological Change: International Evidence," Papers 25, Centre for Economic Performance & Institute of Economics.
  12. Peter Gottschalk, 1997. "Inequality, Income Growth, and Mobility: The Basic Facts," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 11(2), pages 21-40, Spring.
  13. Daron Acemoglu & Jorn-Steffen Pischke, 1998. "The Structure of Wages and Investment in General Training," NBER Working Papers 6357, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  14. Lawrence F. Katz & Kevin M. Murphy, 1992. "Changes in Relative Wages, 1963–1987: Supply and Demand Factors," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 107(1), pages 35-78.
  15. Katz, Lawrence F. & Autor, David H., 1999. "Changes in the wage structure and earnings inequality," Handbook of Labor Economics, in: O. Ashenfelter & D. Card (ed.), Handbook of Labor Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 26, pages 1463-1555 Elsevier.
  16. Malcomson, James M, 1983. "Trade Unions and Economic Efficiency," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 93(369a), pages 51-65, Supplemen.
  17. Lynch, Lisa M, 1992. "Private-Sector Training and the Earnings of Young Workers," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 82(1), pages 299-312, March.
  18. Hogan, Chad, 2001. "Enforcement of Implicit Employment Contracts through Unionization," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 19(1), pages 171-95, January.
  19. Henry S. Farber & Alan B. Krueger, 1992. "Union Membership in the United States: The Decline Continues," NBER Working Papers 4216, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  20. Galor, Oded & Moav, Omer, 1998. "Ability Biased Technological Transition, Wage Inequality and Growth," CEPR Discussion Papers 1972, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  21. Richard B. Freeman, 1991. "How Much Has De-Unionisation Contributed to the Rise in Male Earnings Inequality?," NBER Working Papers 3826, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  22. repec:fth:prinin:306 is not listed on IDEAS
  23. Oswald, Andrew J, 1985. " The Economic Theory of Trade Unions: An Introductory Survey," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 87(2), pages 160-93.
  24. Juhn, Chinhui & Murphy, Kevin M & Pierce, Brooks, 1993. "Wage Inequality and the Rise in Returns to Skill," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 101(3), pages 410-42, June.
  25. Francesco Caselli, 1999. "Technological Revolutions," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(1), pages 78-102, March.
  26. Card, David, 1996. "The Effect of Unions on the Structure of Wages: A Longitudinal Analysis," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 64(4), pages 957-79, July.
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