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The Surprising Retreat of Union Britain

In: Seeking a Premier Economy: The Economic Effects of British Economic Reforms, 1980–2000

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  • John H. Pencavel

Abstract

After expanding in the 1970s, unionism in Britain contracted substantially over the next two decades. This paper argues that the statutory reforms in the 1980s and 1990s were of less consequence in accounting for the decline of unionism than the withdrawal of the state’s indirect support for collective bargaining. The principal goal of the reforms was to boost productivity so the paper examines the link between unions and productivity finding only a small association by the end of the 1990s. Private sector unionism has become highly decentralized which renders it vulnerable to the vagaries of market forces.
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Suggested Citation

  • John H. Pencavel, 2004. "The Surprising Retreat of Union Britain," NBER Chapters, in: Seeking a Premier Economy: The Economic Effects of British Economic Reforms, 1980–2000, pages 181-232, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberch:6748
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • J5 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Labor-Management Relations, Trade Unions, and Collective Bargaining

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