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Public Sector Unions and Municipal Employment


  • Stephen J. Trejo


Using 1980 data for a large sample of U.S. cities, the author reexamines recent empirical findings of a positive association between public sector unionization and municipal employment. Several researchers have interpreted this correlation as evidence that public employee unions successfully exert political pressure to raise the demand for municipal services. Structural estimates of labor demand and the determinants of police and fire unionization reveal, however, that economies of scale in union formation are at least partly responsible for any positive association between public sector unionization and municipal employment. The author concludes that previous studies overstate the amount of political clout wielded by municipal labor unions.

Suggested Citation

  • Stephen J. Trejo, 1991. "Public Sector Unions and Municipal Employment," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 45(1), pages 166-180, October.
  • Handle: RePEc:sae:ilrrev:v:45:y:1991:i:1:p:166-180

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    1. David Card, 1990. "The Impact of the Mariel Boatlift on the Miami Labor Market," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 43(2), pages 245-257, January.
    2. Borjas, George J, 1986. "The Sensitivity of Labor Demand Functions to Choice of Dependent Variable," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 68(1), pages 58-66, February.
    3. Borjas, George J, 1985. "Assimilation, Changes in Cohort Quality, and the Earnings of Immigrants," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 3(4), pages 463-489, October.
    4. Robert J. LaLonde & Robert H. Topel, 1991. "Labor Market Adjustments to Increased Immigration," NBER Chapters,in: Immigration, Trade, and the Labor Market, pages 167-199 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. Greenwood, Michael J & McDowell, John M, 1986. "The Factor Market Consequences of U.S. Immigration," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 24(4), pages 1738-1772, December.
    6. Borjas, George J, 1987. "Self-Selection and the Earnings of Immigrants," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 77(4), pages 531-553, September.
    7. Grossman, Jean Baldwin, 1982. "The Substitutability of Natives and Immigrants in Production," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 64(4), pages 596-603, November.
    8. Joseph G. Altonji & David Card, 1989. "The Effects of Immigration on the Labor Market Outcomes of Natives," NBER Working Papers 3123, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    9. Francine D. Blau, 1984. "The Use of Transfer Payments by Immigrants," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 37(2), pages 222-239, January.
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    Cited by:

    1. Feiveson, Laura, 2015. "General revenue sharing and public sector unions," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 125(C), pages 28-45.
    2. repec:eee:labchp:v:3:y:1999:i:pc:p:3573-3630 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Tim Sass & Jennifer Troyer, 1999. "Affirmative action, political representation, unions, and female police employment," Journal of Labor Research, Springer, vol. 20(4), pages 571-587, December.
    4. repec:kap:ejlwec:v:45:y:2018:i:1:d:10.1007_s10657-016-9526-3 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. Rebecca M. Blank, 1994. "Public Sector Growth and Labor Market Flexibility: The United States versus the United Kingdom," NBER Chapters,in: Social Protection versus Economic Flexibility: Is There a Trade-Off?, pages 223-264 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

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