IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Seniority, Earnings and Unions


  • Booth, Alison L
  • Frank, Jeff


This paper uses a new data source to investigate whether wages rise more with seniority in unionized or non-unionized workplaces. The data distinguish workers who are covered by incremental wage scales with automatic progression by seniority. For union workers with seniority scales, the union wage differential increases with seniority. This is not the case for union workers without seniority scales. Taking account of this heterogeneity, we are able to reconcile previous paradoxical empirical findings. The results provide support for discriminating monopoly models of the trade union and have important efficiency and distributional implications.

Suggested Citation

  • Booth, Alison L & Frank, Jeff, 1994. "Seniority, Earnings and Unions," CEPR Discussion Papers 1007, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  • Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:1007

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: CEPR Discussion Papers are free to download for our researchers, subscribers and members. If you fall into one of these categories but have trouble downloading our papers, please contact us at

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version below or search for a different version of it.

    Other versions of this item:

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Gilles Saint-Paul, 2001. "The Dynamics of Exclusion and Fiscal Conservatism," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 4(2), pages 275-302, April.
    2. Alberto Alesina & Dani Rodrik, 1994. "Distributive Politics and Economic Growth," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 109(2), pages 465-490.
    3. Barro, Robert J, 1979. "On the Determination of the Public Debt," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 87(5), pages 940-971, October.
    4. Abhijit V. Banerjee & Andrew F. Newman, 1991. "Risk-Bearing and the Theory of Income Distribution," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 58(2), pages 211-235.
    5. Meltzer, Allan H & Richard, Scott F, 1981. "A Rational Theory of the Size of Government," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 89(5), pages 914-927, October.
    6. Sala-i-Martin, Xavier X, 1996. "A Positive Theory of Social Security," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 1(2), pages 277-304, June.
    7. Oded Galor & Joseph Zeira, 1993. "Income Distribution and Macroeconomics," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 60(1), pages 35-52.
    8. Lars Osberg, 1998. "Economic Insecurity," Discussion Papers 0088, University of New South Wales, Social Policy Research Centre.
    9. Persson, Torsten & Tabellini, Guido, 1994. "Is Inequality Harmful for Growth?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(3), pages 600-621, June.
    10. Thomas Piketty, 1997. "The Dynamics of the Wealth Distribution and the Interest Rate with Credit Rationing," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 64(2), pages 173-189.
    11. Saint-Paul, Gilles & Verdier, Thierry, 1993. "Education, democracy and growth," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 42(2), pages 399-407, December.
    12. Levy, Frank & Murnane, Richard J, 1992. "U.S. Earnings Levels and Earnings Inequality: A Review of Recent Trends and Proposed Explanations," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 30(3), pages 1333-1381, September.
    13. Loury, Glenn C, 1981. "Intergenerational Transfers and the Distribution of Earnings," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 49(4), pages 843-867, June.
    14. Bulow, Jeremy I & Summers, Lawrence H, 1986. "A Theory of Dual Labor Markets with Application to Industrial Policy,Discrimination, and Keynesian Unemployment," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 4(3), pages 376-414, July.
    15. Costas Azariadis & Allan Drazen, 1990. "Threshold Externalities in Economic Development," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 105(2), pages 501-526.
    16. Rothschild, Michael & Stiglitz, Joseph E., 1970. "Increasing risk: I. A definition," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 2(3), pages 225-243, September.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. Alison L. Booth & Marco Francesconi & Jeff Frank, 2002. "Temporary Jobs: Stepping Stones Or Dead Ends?," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 112(480), pages 189-213, June.
    2. Booth, Alison L. & Francesconi, Marco & Frank, Jeff, 2000. "Temporary jobs: who gets them, what are they worth, and do they lead anywhere?," ISER Working Paper Series 2000-13, Institute for Social and Economic Research.
    3. Booth, Alison L. & Francesconi, Marco & Frank, Jeff, 2003. "A sticky floors model of promotion, pay, and gender," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 47(2), pages 295-322, April.
    4. Booth, Alison L. & Francesconi, Marco, 2000. "Collectivism versus individualism: performance-related pay and union coverage for non-standard workers in Britain," ISER Working Paper Series 2000-35, Institute for Social and Economic Research.
    5. Nicholas Lawson, 2011. "Is Collective Bargaining Pareto Efficient? A Survey of the Literature," Journal of Labor Research, Springer, vol. 32(3), pages 282-304, September.
    6. Williams, Nicolas, 2009. "Seniority, experience, and wages in the UK," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 16(3), pages 272-283, June.
    7. Flabbi, Luca & Ichino, Andrea, 2001. "Productivity, seniority and wages: new evidence from personnel data," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 8(3), pages 359-387, June.
    8. Paul Hek & Daniel Vuuren, 2011. "Are older workers overpaid? A literature review," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer;International Institute of Public Finance, vol. 18(4), pages 436-460, August.
    9. Zwick, Thomas, 2011. "Seniority wages and establishment characteristics," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 18(6), pages 853-861.
    10. Lee, Darin & Singer, Ethan, 2014. "What's your number? Interpreting the “fair and equitable” standard in seniority integration for airlines and other industries," Economics of Transportation, Elsevier, vol. 3(1), pages 2-15.
    11. Sarah Brown & John G. Sessions, "undated". "Education, Earnings, and Fixed-Term Contracts," Discussion Papers in Public Sector Economics 01/5, Department of Economics, University of Leicester.

    More about this item


    Discriminating Monopoly Union Models; Earnings; Incremental Wage Scales; Seniority; Trade Unions;

    JEL classification:

    • J31 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Wage Level and Structure; Wage Differentials
    • J33 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Compensation Packages; Payment Methods
    • J50 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Labor-Management Relations, Trade Unions, and Collective Bargaining - - - General
    • J51 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Labor-Management Relations, Trade Unions, and Collective Bargaining - - - Trade Unions: Objectives, Structure, and Effects


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:1007. 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: (). General contact details of provider: .

    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.

    We have no references for this item. You can help adding them by using 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 RePEc Author Service 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.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.