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Did "right-to-work" work for Idaho?

  • Emin M. Dinlersoz
  • Rubén Hernández-Murillo

The Idaho legislature passed their right-to-work law in 1986. Idaho provides an interesting case study for the effects of the law because it adopted the law during a period in which unionization had already declined substantially in the United States. This paper provides evidence on the industrial organization consequences of right-to-work laws by jointly examining the trends in Idaho’s unionization rate and industrial performance before and after 1986, using neighboring states as controls. We find that unionization declined substantially starting a few years before the passage of the law, and this decline persisted thereafter. Furthermore, the post-law growth rates in manufacturing employment and the number of establishments far exceeded their pre-law counterparts. As a result, Idaho gradually became more like an “average” right-to-work law state in terms of its unionization rate and the employment share of manufacturing, diverging from the patterns exhibited by states without a right-to-work law.

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Article provided by Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis in its journal Review.

Volume (Year): (2002)
Issue (Month): May ()
Pages: 29-42

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Handle: RePEc:fip:fedlrv:y:2002:i:may:p:29-42:n:v.84no.3
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  1. Even, William E. & Macpherson, David A., 1990. "Plant size and the decline of unionism," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 32(4), pages 393-398, April.
  2. William J. Moore & Robert J. Newman, 1985. "The effects of right-to-work laws: A review of the literature," Industrial and Labor Relations Review, ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 38(4), pages 571-585, July.
  3. Thomas J. Holmes, 1998. "The Effect of State Policies on the Location of Manufacturing: Evidence from State Borders," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 106(4), pages 667-705, August.
  4. Richard J. Long, 1993. "The Effect of Unionization on Employment Growth of Canadian Companies," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 46(4), pages 691-703, July.
  5. Steven E. Abraham & Paula B. Voos, 2000. "Right-to-Work Laws: New Evidence from the Stock Market," Southern Economic Journal, Southern Economic Association, vol. 67(2), pages 345-362, July.
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