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Union Decline in Britain

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  • David Blanchflower
  • Alex Bryson

Abstract

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.

Suggested Citation

  • David Blanchflower & Alex Bryson, 2008. "Union Decline in Britain," CEP Discussion Papers dp0864, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
  • Handle: RePEc:cep:cepdps:dp0864
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Machin, Stephen & Stewart, Mark, 1996. "Trade Unions and Financial Performance," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 48(2), pages 213-241, April.
    2. Stephen Drinkwater & Peter Ingram, 2005. "Have Industrial Relations in the UK Really Improved?," LABOUR, CEIS, vol. 19(2), pages 373-398, June.
    3. Stewart, Mark B, 1987. "Collective Bargaining Arrangements, Closed Shops and Relative Pay," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 97(385), pages 140-156, March.
    4. 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 571-583, November.
    5. Blanchflower, David G. & Shadforth, Chris, 2007. "Entrepreneurship in the UK," Foundations and Trends(R) in Entrepreneurship, now publishers, vol. 3(4), pages 257-364, July.
    6. 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).
    7. Blanchflower, David G., 2006. "A Cross-Country Study of Union Membership," IZA Discussion Papers 2016, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    8. 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.
    9. Blanchflower, David G & Oswald, Andrew J & Garrett, Mario D, 1990. "Insider Power in Wage Determination," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 57(226), pages 143-170, May.
    10. 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 577-598, December.
    11. S. Rosen, 1969. "Trade Union Power, Threat Effects and the Extent of Organization," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 36(2), pages 185-196.
    12. 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.
    13. 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.
    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. 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.
    16. 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.
    17. 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, July.
    18. Bryson, Alex & Gomez, Rafael, 2003. "Segmentation, switching costs and the demand for unionization in Britain," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 4947, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    19. Blanchflower, David G & Millward, Neil & Oswald, Andrew J, 1991. "Unionism and Employment Behaviour," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 101(407), pages 815-834, July.
    20. Bryson, Alex & Wilkinson, David, 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.
    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 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, January.
    23. 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, September.
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    Cited by:

    1. Haile, Getinet Astatike, 2016. "Men, Women and Unions," IZA Discussion Papers 10438, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    2. Blanchflower, David G. & Bryson, Alex & Forth, John, 2006. "Workplace Industrial Relations in Britain, 1980-2004," IZA Discussion Papers 2518, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).

    More about this item

    Keywords

    trade unions; employment growth; financial performance; industrialrelations;

    JEL classification:

    • J51 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Labor-Management Relations, Trade Unions, and Collective Bargaining - - - Trade Unions: Objectives, Structure, and Effects

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