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New Evidence on Unions and Plant Closings: Britain in the 1990s


  • John T. Addison

    () (Department of Economics, Moore School of Business, University of South Carolina)

  • John S. Heywood

    () (University of Wisconsin)

  • Xiangdong Wei

    () (Department of Economics, Lingnan University)


In this paper, we exploit the longitudinal element of the 1990 and 1998 Workplace Employee Relations Surveys for Britain to investigate the effect of unionism on establishment closings. Contrary to both recent U.S. research and long-standing British work, we find a strong positive association between two measures of unionism—union recognition for collective bargaining purposes and union coverage—and plant closings. This association is robust to the inclusion of highly detailed industry controls but is driven by plants that are parts of multiestablishment entities. No such relationship obtains in the case of single-plant enterprises. In explaining our findings, we address their consistency with the widely perceived reduction in the “disadvantages of (British) unionism” in recent years.

Suggested Citation

  • John T. Addison & John S. Heywood & Xiangdong Wei, 2003. "New Evidence on Unions and Plant Closings: Britain in the 1990s," Southern Economic Journal, Southern Economic Association, vol. 69(4), pages 822-841, April.
  • Handle: RePEc:sej:ancoec:v:69:4:y:2003:p:822-841

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. David M. Frankel, 2010. "Rent Seeking and Economic Fragility," Levine's Bibliography 661465000000000159, UCLA Department of Economics.
    2. Barry T. Hirsch, 2012. "Unions, dynamism, and economic performance," Chapters,in: Research Handbook on the Economics of Labor and Employment Law, chapter 4, pages 107-145 Edward Elgar Publishing.
    3. Uwe Jirjahn, 2010. "Nonunion Worker Representation and the Closure of Establishments: German Evidence on the Role of Moderating Factors," Research Papers in Economics 2010-01, University of Trier, Department of Economics.

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