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Do unions make enterprises insolvent?

  • Richard B. Freeman
  • Morris M. Kleiner

This study investigates the impact of unionization on closures of firms, business lines, and establishments. Analyzing data from two major data sets-one (from the COMPUSTAT files) on the union status of solvent and insolvent enterprises and business lines, and one (obtained by matching files from the Current Population Survey) on the union status of workers who have lost their jobs due to permanent plant closures or business failures-the authors find little support for the hypothesis that unionization increases the insolvency of firms. The results are consistent with the hypothesis that unions behave in an economically rational manner, pushing wages to the point where union firms may expand less rapidly than nonunion firms, but not to the point where the firm, plant, or business line closes down. (Abstract courtesy JSTOR.)

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Article provided by ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School in its journal ILR Review.

Volume (Year): 52 (1999)
Issue (Month): 4 (July)
Pages: 510-527

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Handle: RePEc:ilr:articl:v:52:y:1999:i:4:p:510-527
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  1. Richard B. Freeman, 1983. "Unionism, Price-Cost Margins, and the Return to Capital," NBER Working Papers 1164, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Davis, Steven J & Haltiwanger, John C, 1992. "Gross Job Creation, Gross Job Destruction, and Employment Reallocation," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 107(3), pages 819-63, August.
  3. Richard B. Freeman & Edward P. Lazear, 1994. "An Economic Analysis of Works Councils," NBER Working Papers 4918, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Clark, Kim B, 1984. "Unionization and Firm Performance: The Impact on Profits, Growth, and Productivity," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 74(5), pages 893-919, December.
  5. Michael A. Salinger, 1984. "Tobin's q, Unionization, and the Concentration-Profits Relationship," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 15(2), pages 159-170, Summer.
  6. John H. Pencavel, 1982. "The Trade-Off between Wages and Employment in Trade Union Objectives," NBER Working Papers 0870, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Peracchi, Franco & Welch, Finis, 1995. "How representative are matched cross-sections? Evidence from the Current Population Survey," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 68(1), pages 153-179, July.
  8. Karier, Thomas M, 1985. "Unions and Monopoly Profits," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 67(1), pages 34-42, February.
  9. Domowitz, Ian & Hubbard, R Glenn & Petersen, Bruce C, 1986. "The Intertemporal Stability of the Concentration-Margins Relationship," Journal of Industrial Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 35(1), pages 13-34, September.
  10. Voos, Paula B & Mishel, Lawrence R, 1986. "The Union Impact on Profits: Evidence from Industry Price-Cost Margin Data," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 4(1), pages 105-33, January.
  11. Ruback, Richard S & Zimmerman, Martin B, 1984. "Unionization and Profitability: Evidence from the Capital Market," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 92(6), pages 1134-57, December.
  12. Kuhn, Peter, 1986. "Wages, Effort, and Incentive Compatibility in Life-Cycle Employment Contracts," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 4(1), pages 28-49, January.
  13. Barry T. Hirsch & Robert A. Connolly, 1987. "Do unions capture monopoly profits?," Industrial and Labor Relations Review, ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 41(1), pages 118-136, October.
  14. Connolly, Robert A & Hirsch, Barry T & Hirschey, Mark, 1986. "Union Rent Seeking, Intangible Capital, and Market Value of the Firm," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 68(4), pages 567-77, November.
  15. Kleiner, Morris M., 1984. "Public policy implications of financial information requirements under the national labor relations act," Journal of Accounting and Public Policy, Elsevier, vol. 3(4), pages 253-257.
  16. Colin Lawrence & Robert Z. Lawrence, 1985. "Manufacturing Wage Dispersion: An End Game Interpretation," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 16(1), pages 47-116.
  17. Macpherson, D.A. & Dunne, T., 1992. "Unionism and Gross Employment Flows," Working Papers 1992_10_5, Department of Economics, Florida State University.
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