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The Role of Unions in the Twenty-first Century: A Report for the Fondazione Rodolfo Debenedetti

Editor

Listed:
  • Boeri, Tito
    (Bocconi University)

  • Brugiavini, Agar
    (University of Venice)

  • Calmfors, Lars
    (Stockholm University)

Abstract

In this book, first-rate international scholars in the field explore the role that unions are likely to play in the changed economic environment of the new century. Questions discussed include: What will unions look like in the years to come? Which kind of interest groups will they represent? How important will be the broader political role of unions? To what extent do unions care about future generations? Part One documents a tendency towards greater decentralization in collective bargaining and declining union membership rates in most European countries. The process of decentralization may only be partly reversed by social pacts of the type that occurred in several EU countries in the run-up to EMU. Yet this type of co-ordination is likely to be increasingly unstable in a context where membership is falling, hence will inevitably require government intervention. Not all governments may wish to intervene in wage setting, however, as there are strong reasons to believe that such intervention could impose wage rigidities in some parts of the economy and lead to non-enforcement in other parts. Moreover, under EMU what matters is ultimately co-ordination of bargaining at the pan-European level rather than simply at the national level. Such higher-level, transnational co-ordination is not likely to occur for a long time to come because of the huge costs that it involves. Some transnational co-ordination may occur within multinational firms, however, as costs are likely to be much lower at this level. Part Two characterizes the intergenerational conflicts present within unions. Unions may be able to better respond to the needs of the unemployed without losing the support of current employees when they become involved in the running of unemployment benefit systems, as has been the case in those countries applying the so-called Ghent system. They may also succeed in making the system more efficient by, for example, contributing to the reduction of moral hazard problems associated with the provision of unemployment insurance. Unions are, however, unlikely to solve the latent conflict between their younger and older members in a context where the population is ageing, since they tend to preserve the status quo when it comes to cutting pension benefits in order to deal with demographic transition. The cost of these dynamic inefficiencies may be accepted by younger generations as long as an intergenerational contract can be enforced whereby unions guarantee that the status quo will be preserved, and are credible in their commitment. Unions could play a key role in this implicit intergenerational pact because they are long-lived agents---certainly longer-lived than many governments---but, under present conditions, this pact may be no longer credible. Contributors to this volume - Tito Boeri Alison Booth Michael Burda Lars Calmfors Daniele Checchi Robin Naylor Jelle Visser Villy Bergstrom Robert Flanagan Agar Brugiavini Bernhard Ebbinghaus Richard Freeman Pietro Garibaldi Bertil Holmund Martin Schludi Thierry Verdier Gilles Saint-Paul Michele Salvati Olivier Blanchard Steve Nickell

Suggested Citation

  • Boeri, Tito & Brugiavini, Agar & Calmfors, Lars (ed.), 2001. "The Role of Unions in the Twenty-first Century: A Report for the Fondazione Rodolfo Debenedetti," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780199246588.
  • Handle: RePEc:oxp:obooks:9780199246588
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Eckhard Hein & Thorsten Schulten & Achim Truger, 2004. "Wage trends and deflation risks in Germany and Europe," Macroeconomics 0412008, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    2. Paul De Grauwe, 2006. "What Have we Learnt about Monetary Integration since the Maastricht Treaty?," Journal of Common Market Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 44, pages 711-730, November.
    3. Tito Boeri, 2015. "Perverse effects of two-tier wage bargaining structures," IZA World of Labor, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA), pages 101-101, January.
    4. Luca Nunziata, 2005. "Institutions and Wage Determination: a Multi-country Approach," Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics, Department of Economics, University of Oxford, vol. 67(4), pages 435-466, August.
    5. Hein, Eckhard & Schulten, Thorsten, 2004. "Unemployment, Wages and Collective Bargaining in the European Union," WSI Working Papers 128, The Institute of Economic and Social Research (WSI), Hans-Böckler-Foundation.
    6. Boeri, Tito, 2014. "Two-Tier Bargaining," IZA Discussion Papers 8358, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    7. Manos Matsaganis, 2007. "Union Structures and Pension Outcomes in Greece," British Journal of Industrial Relations, London School of Economics, vol. 45(3), pages 537-555, September.
    8. Cords, Dario, 2017. "Endogenous technology, matching, and labor unions: Does low-skilled immigration affect the technological alignment of the host country?," Hohenheim Discussion Papers in Business, Economics and Social Sciences 20-2017, University of Hohenheim, Faculty of Business, Economics and Social Sciences.
    9. Robert Fenge & Max Friese, 2018. "Should Unemployment Insurance be Centralized in a State Union?," CESifo Working Paper Series 6898, CESifo Group Munich.
    10. Mariam Camarero & Gaetano D’Adamo & Cecilio Tamarit, 2014. "The role of Institutions in explaining wage determination in the Euro Area: a panel cointegration approach," Working Papers 2014/15, Economics Department, Universitat Jaume I, Castellón (Spain).
    11. Baudy, Philipp & Cords, Dario, 2016. "Deregulation of temporary agency employment in a unionized economy: Does this really lead to a substitution of regular employment?," Hohenheim Discussion Papers in Business, Economics and Social Sciences 06-2016, University of Hohenheim, Faculty of Business, Economics and Social Sciences.

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