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Union Decline in Britain

  • David Blanchflower
  • Alex Bryson

This paper investigates the demise of unionisation in British private sector workplaces over the last quarter century. We show that dramatic union decline has occurred across all types of workplace. Although the union wage premium persists it is quite small in 2004. Negative union effects on employment growth and financial performance are largely confined to the 1980s. Managerial perceptions of the climate of relations between managers and workers has deteriorated since the early 1980s across the whole private sector, whether the workplace is unionised or not.

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Paper provided by Centre for Economic Performance, LSE in its series CEP Discussion Papers with number dp0864.

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Date of creation: Apr 2008
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Handle: RePEc:cep:cepdps:dp0864
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  1. Alex Bryson & Harald Dale-Olsen, 2008. "A Tale of Two Countries: Unions, Closures and Growth in Britain and Norway," CEP Discussion Papers dp0867, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
  2. Stephen Drinkwater & Peter Ingram, 2003. "Have industrial relations in the UK really improved?," School of Economics Discussion Papers 0903, School of Economics, University of Surrey.
  3. Blanchflower, D. & Oswald, A. & Garrett, M., 1988. "Insider Power In Wage Determination," Papers 319, London School of Economics - Centre for Labour Economics.
  4. Pencavel, John, 2003. "The Surprising Retreat of Union Britain," IZA Discussion Papers 818, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  5. Alex Bryson & John Forth & Simon Kirby, 2005. "High-Involvement Management Practices, Trade Union Representation And Workplace Performance In Britain," Scottish Journal of Political Economy, Scottish Economic Society, vol. 52(3), pages 451-491, 07.
  6. David G. Blanchflower & Alex Bryson, 2004. "What Effect Do Unions Have on Wages Now and Would Freeman and Medoff Be Surprised?," Journal of Labor Research, Transaction Publishers, vol. 25(3), pages 383-414, July.
  7. Blanchflower, David G. & Shadforth, Chris, 2007. "Entrepreneurship in the UK," IZA Discussion Papers 2818, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  8. Belfield, Clive R & Heywood, John S, 2001. " Unionization and the Pattern of Nonunion Wages: Evidence for the UK," Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics, Department of Economics, University of Oxford, vol. 63(5), pages 577-98, December.
  9. Blanchflower, David G & Millward, Neil & Oswald, Andrew J, 1991. "Unionism and Employment Behaviour," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 101(407), pages 815-34, July.
  10. Stephen Machin & M Stewart, 1995. "Trade Unions and Financial Performance," CEP Discussion Papers dp0242, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
  11. Alex Bryson & Rafael Gomez, 2003. "Segmentation, Switching Costs and the Demand for Unionization in Britain," CEP Discussion Papers dp0568, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
  12. David G. Blanchflower & Alex Bryson, 2010. "The Wage Impact of Trade Unions in the UK Public and Private Sectors," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 77(305), pages 92-109, 01.
  13. Alex Bryson & David Wilkinson, 2002. "Collective bargaining and workplace performance: an investigation using the workplace employee relations survey 1998," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 4995, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
  14. Alex Bryson, 1999. "The impact of employee involvement on small firms' financial performance," National Institute Economic Review, National Institute of Economic and Social Research, vol. 169(1), pages 78-95, July.
  15. Addison, John T. & Belfield, Clive R., 2002. "Unions and Employment Growth: The One Constant?," IZA Discussion Papers 479, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  16. Blanchflower, David G., 2006. "A Cross-Country Study of Union Membership," IZA Discussion Papers 2016, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  17. Stewart, Mark B, 1986. "Collective Bargaining Arrangements Closed Shops and Relative Pay," The Warwick Economics Research Paper Series (TWERPS) 273, University of Warwick, Department of Economics.
  18. Rosen, Sherwin, 1969. "Trade Union Power, Threat Effects and the Extent of Organization," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 36(106), pages 185-96, April.
  19. Addison, John T & Belfield, Clive R, 2000. "The Impact of Financial Participation and Employee Involvement on Financial Performance: A Re-estimation Using the 1998 WERS," Scottish Journal of Political Economy, Scottish Economic Society, vol. 47(5), pages 571-83, November.
  20. John T. Addison & Clive R. Belfield, 2001. "Updating the Determinants of Firm Performance: Estimation using the 1998 UK Workplace Employee Relations Survey," British Journal of Industrial Relations, London School of Economics, vol. 39(3), pages 341-366, 09.
  21. Bernhard Ebbinghaus & Jelle Visser, 1998. "When Institutions Matter: Union Growth and Decline in Western Europe, 1950-95," MZES Working Papers 30, MZES.
  22. David Blanchflower & Alex Bryson, 2002. "Changes over time in union relative wage effects in the UK and the US revisited," NBER Working Papers 9395, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  23. James T. Bennett & Bruce E. Kaufman, 2004. "What Do Unions Do?: A Twenty-Year Perspective," Journal of Labor Research, Transaction Publishers, vol. 25(3), pages 339-350, July.
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