IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Login to save this paper or follow this series

Union Density and Varieties of Coverage: The Anatomy of Union Wage Effects in Germany

  • Bernd Fitzenberger
  • Karsten Kohn
  • Alexander C. Lembcke

Collective bargaining in Germany takes place either at the industry level or at the firm level; collective bargaining coverage is much higher than union density; and not all employees in a covered firm are necessarily covered. This institutional setup suggests to distinguish explicitly union power as measured by net union density (NUD) in a labor market segment, coverage at the firm level, and coverage at the individual level. Using linked employer-employee data and applying quantile regressions, this is the first empirical paper which simultaneously analyzes these three dimensions of union influence on the structure of wages. Ceteris paribus, a higher share of employees in a firm covered by industry-wide or firm-level contracts is associated with higher wages. Yet, individual bargaining coverage in a covered firm shows a negative impact both on the wage level and on wage dispersion. A higher union density is negative at all points in the wage distribution for uncovered employees. In line with an insurance motive, higher union density compresses the wage structure and, at the same time, it is associated with a uniform leftward movement of the distribution for uncovered employees.

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

File URL:
Download Restriction: no

Paper provided by Centre for Economic Performance, LSE in its series CEP Discussion Papers with number dp0859.

in new window

Date of creation: Mar 2008
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:cep:cepdps:dp0859
Contact details of provider: Web page:

References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:

as in new window
  1. Gesine Stephan & Knut Gerlach, 2005. "Wage settlements and wage setting: results from a multi-level model," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 37(20), pages 2297-2306.
  2. Hübler, Olaf & Jirjahn, Uwe, 2001. "Works Councils and Collective Bargaining in Germany: The Impact on Productivity and Wages," IZA Discussion Papers 322, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  3. José Mata & José A. F. Machado, 2005. "Counterfactual decomposition of changes in wage distributions using quantile regression," Journal of Applied Econometrics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 20(4), pages 445-465.
  4. Hartog, Joop & Leuven, Edwin & Teulings, Coen N, 1997. "Wages and the Bargaining Regime in a Corporatist Setting: The Netherlands," CEPR Discussion Papers 1706, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  5. Agell, Jonas & Lommerud, Kjell Erik, 1992. "Union Egalitarianism as Income Insurance," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 59(235), pages 295-310, August.
  6. Bauer, Thomas K. & Bonin, Holger & Goette, Lorenz & Sunde, Uwe, 2007. "Real and nominal wage rigidities and the rate of inflation: Evidence from West German micro data," Munich Reprints in Economics 20121, University of Munich, Department of Economics.
  7. Goerke, Laszlo & Pannenberg, Markus, 2003. "Norm-Based Trade Union Membership: Evidence for Germany," IZA Discussion Papers 962, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  8. Karsten Kohn & Alexander Lembcke, 2007. "Wage distributions by bargaining regime: linked employer-employee data evidence from Germany," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 19699, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
  9. Fitzenberger, Bernd & Kohn, Karsten, 2006. "Gleicher Lohn für gleiche Arbeit? Zum Zusammenhang zwischen Gewerkschaftsmitgliedschaft und Lohnstruktur in Westdeutschland 1985?1997," ZEW Discussion Papers 06-06, ZEW - Zentrum für Europäische Wirtschaftsforschung / Center for European Economic Research.
  10. Burda, Michael C, 1995. "Unions and Wage Insurance," CEPR Discussion Papers 1232, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  11. Christian Dustmann & Uta Schönberg, 2009. "Training and Union Wages," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 91(2), pages 363-376, May.
  12. Richard B. Freeman, 1981. "Union Wage Practices and Wage Dispersion within Establishments," NBER Working Papers 0752, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  13. Bernd Fitzenberger & Karsten Kohn & Qingwei Wang, 2011. "The erosion of union membership in Germany: determinants, densities, decompositions," Journal of Population Economics, Springer, vol. 24(1), pages 141-165, January.
  14. Fitzenberger, Bernd & Beck, Martin, 2003. "Changes in Union Membership Over Time: A Panel Analysis for West Germany," ZEW Discussion Papers 03-42, ZEW - Zentrum für Europäische Wirtschaftsforschung / Center for European Economic Research.
  15. Berndt Keller, 2005. "Union Formation through Merger: The Case of Ver.di in Germany," British Journal of Industrial Relations, London School of Economics, vol. 43(2), pages 209-232, 06.
  16. Dell'Aringa, Carlo & Lucifora, Claudio, 1994. "Collective bargaining and relative earnings in Italy," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 10(4), pages 727-747, December.
  17. Joshua Angrist & Victor Chernozhukov & Ivan Fernandez-Val, 2004. "Quantile Regression under Misspecification, with an Application to the U.S. Wage Structure," NBER Working Papers 10428, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  18. Wolf Dieter Heinbach, 2006. "Bargained Wages in Decentralized Wage-Setting Regimes," Diskussionspapiere aus dem Institut für Volkswirtschaftslehre der Universität Hohenheim 276/2005, Department of Economics, University of Hohenheim, Germany.
  19. Blakemore, Arthur E & Hunt, Janet C & Kiker, B F, 1986. "Collective Bargaining and Union Membership Effects on the Wages of Male Youths," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 4(2), pages 193-211, April.
  20. Robinson, Chris, 1989. "The Joint Determination of Union Status and Union Wage Effects: Some Tests of Alternative Models," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 97(3), pages 639-67, June.
  21. Addison, John T. & Teixeira, Paulino & Zwick, Thomas, 2006. "Works councils and the anatomy of wages," ZEW Discussion Papers 06-86, ZEW - Zentrum für Europäische Wirtschaftsforschung / Center for European Economic Research.
  22. Schnabel, Claus & Wagner, Joachim, 2003. "Trade Union Membership in Eastern and Western Germany: Convergence or Divergence?," IZA Discussion Papers 707, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  23. Luigi Guiso & Luigi Pistaferri & Fabiano Schivardi, 2001. "Insurance within the Firm," Temi di discussione (Economic working papers) 414, Bank of Italy, Economic Research and International Relations Area.
  24. Oswald, Andrew J, 1985. " The Economic Theory of Trade Unions: An Introductory Survey," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 87(2), pages 160-93.
  25. Wolf Dieter Heinbach & Markus Spindler, 2007. "To Bind or Not to Bind Collectively? Decomposition of Bargained Wage Differences Using Counterfactual Distributions," Diskussionspapiere aus dem Institut für Volkswirtschaftslehre der Universität Hohenheim 294/2007, Department of Economics, University of Hohenheim, Germany.
  26. Moulton, Brent R, 1990. "An Illustration of a Pitfall in Estimating the Effects of Aggregate Variables on Micro Unit," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 72(2), pages 334-38, May.
  27. Ana Rute Cardoso & Pedro Portugal, 2005. "Contractual Wages and the Wage Cushion under Different Bargaining Settings," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 23(4), pages 875-902, October.
  28. Stewart, Mark B, 1987. "Collective Bargaining Arrangements, Closed Shops and Relative Pay," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 97(385), pages 140-56, March.
  29. repec:oup:qjecon:v:119:y:2004:i:4:p:1383-1441 is not listed on IDEAS
  30. Karsten Kohn & Alexander Lembcke, 2007. "Wage distributions by bargaining regime," AStA Wirtschafts- und Sozialstatistisches Archiv, Springer, vol. 1(3), pages 247-261, December.
  31. Lars Calmfors, 1993. "Centralisation of Wage Bargaining and Macroeconomic Performance: A Survey," OECD Economics Department Working Papers 131, OECD Publishing.
  32. Andrews, Martyn J. & Stewart, Mark B. & Swaffield, Joanna K. & Upward, Richard, 1998. "The estimation of union wage differentials and the impact of methodological choices," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 5(4), pages 449-474, December.
  33. David Card & Sara de la Rica, 2006. "Firm-level contracting and the structure of wages in Spain," Industrial and Labor Relations Review, ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 59(4), pages 573-592, July.
  34. John DiNardo & David S. Lee, 2004. "Economic Impacts of Unionization on Private Sector Employers: 1984-2001," NBER Working Papers 10598, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  35. repec:oup:qjecon:v:100:y:1985:i:1:p:253-61 is not listed on IDEAS
  36. Card, David, 1996. "The Effect of Unions on the Structure of Wages: A Longitudinal Analysis," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 64(4), pages 957-79, July.
  37. Freeman, Richard B & Medoff, James L, 1981. "The Impact of the Percentage Organized on Union and Nonunion Wages," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 63(4), pages 561-72, November.
  38. Büttner, Thiess & Fitzenberger, Bernd, 1998. "Central wage bargaining and local wage flexibility: evidence from the entire wage distribution," ZEW Discussion Papers 98-39, ZEW - Zentrum für Europäische Wirtschaftsforschung / Center for European Economic Research.
  39. Edward J. Schumacher, 1999. "What Explains Wage Differences Between Union Members and Covered Nonmembers?," Southern Economic Journal, Southern Economic Association, vol. 65(3), pages 493-512, January.
  40. Robert J. Flanagan, 1999. "Macroeconomic Performance and Collective Bargaining: An International Perspective," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 37(3), pages 1150-1175, September.
  41. Knut Gerlach & Gesine Stephan, 2006. "Bargaining Regimes and Wage Dispersion," Journal of Economics and Statistics (Jahrbuecher fuer Nationaloekonomie und Statistik), Justus-Liebig University Giessen, Department of Statistics and Economics, vol. 226(6), pages 629-645, November.
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:cep:cepdps:dp0859. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: ()

If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.