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Unions and Wage Insurance

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  • Burda, Michael C

Abstract

Existing theories of unions emphasize their impact on wage levels relative to the opportunity cost of leisure. This paper explores the possibility that monopoly unions provide income insurance against idiosyncratic wage variability. An optimal union contract is characterized by real wage and other types of flexibility only in response to systematic changes in underlying uncertainty. Under such conditions, there is no presumption that the `union wage premium' relative to the free market wage is positive. The model shows the effect of unemployment benefits, average productivity, and risk on the desirability of union membership, and offers an economic interpretation of equity and solidarity in union policy. It can also explain the negative correlation between inequality and unionism in developed countries.

Suggested Citation

  • Burda, Michael C, 1995. "Unions and Wage Insurance," CEPR Discussion Papers 1232, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  • Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:1232
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Checchi, Daniele & Visser, Jelle & van de Werfhorst, Herman G., 2007. "Inequality and Union Membership: The Impact of Relative Earnings Position and Inequality Attitudes," IZA Discussion Papers 2691, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    2. Mishkin, Frederic S., 1998. "International Experiences With Different Monetary Policy Regimes," Seminar Papers 648, Stockholm University, Institute for International Economic Studies.
    3. John DiNardo & Kevin Hallock & Jorn-Steffen Pischke, 1997. "Unions and Managerial Pay," NBER Working Papers 6318, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Nicole Gürtzgen, 2006. "The Effect of Firm- ans Industry-Level Contracts on Wages: Evidence from Longitudinal Linked Employer-Employee Data," ZEW Discussion Papers 06-082, ZEW - Zentrum für Europäische Wirtschaftsforschung / Center for European Economic Research.
    5. Bernd Fitzenberger & Karsten Kohn & Alexander C. Lembcke, 2013. "Union Density and Varieties of Coverage: The Anatomy of Union Wage Effects in Germany," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 66(1), pages 169-197, January.
    6. Jonas Agell, 2002. "On the Determinants of Labour Market Institutions: Rent Seeking vs. Social Insurance," German Economic Review, Verein für Socialpolitik, vol. 3(2), pages 107-135, May.
    7. Lindbeck, A., 1998. "Swedish Lessons for Post-Socialist Countries," Papers 645, Stockholm - International Economic Studies.
    8. Agell, J., 2000. "On the Determinants of Labour Market Institutions: Rent-sharing vs. Social Insurance," Papers 2000:16, Uppsala - Working Paper Series.
    9. Laszlo Goerke & Markus Pannenberg, 2012. "Risk Aversion and Trade-Union Membership," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 114(2), pages 275-295, June.
    10. Thorsten Vogel, 2007. "Union Wage Compression in a Right-to-Manage Model," SFB 649 Discussion Papers SFB649DP2007-009, Sonderforschungsbereich 649, Humboldt University, Berlin, Germany.
    11. Fitzenberger, Bernd & Kohn, Karsten, 2005. "Gleicher Lohn für gleiche Arbeit? : zum Zusammenhang zwischen Gewerkschaftsmitgliedschaft und Lohnstruktur in Westdeutschland 1985-1997 (Equal pay for equal work? * on the relationship between union m," Zeitschrift für ArbeitsmarktForschung - Journal for Labour Market Research, Institut für Arbeitsmarkt- und Berufsforschung (IAB), Nürnberg [Institute for Employment Research, Nuremberg, Germany], vol. 38(2/3), pages 125-146.
    12. Berthold, Norbert & Zenzen, Jupp, 2009. "Stochern im Nebel: der Ungleichheit auf der Spur," Discussion Paper Series 104, Julius Maximilian University of Würzburg, Chair of Economic Order and Social Policy.
    13. Nicole Guertzgen, 2009. "Rent-sharing and Collective Bargaining Coverage: Evidence from Linked Employer-Employee Data," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 111(2), pages 323-349, June.
    14. Taylor, John B., 1999. "The robustness and efficiency of monetary policy rules as guidelines for interest rate setting by the European central bank," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 43(3), pages 655-679, June.
    15. repec:iab:iabzaf:v:38:i:2/3:p:125-146 is not listed on IDEAS
    16. Karsten Kohn & Alexander Lembcke, 2007. "Wage distributions by bargaining regime," AStA Wirtschafts- und Sozialstatistisches Archiv, Springer;Deutsche Statistische Gesellschaft - German Statistical Society, vol. 1(3), pages 247-261, December.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Implicit Contracts; Insurance; Labour Unions; Wage Differentials;

    JEL classification:

    • J31 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Wage Level and Structure; Wage Differentials
    • J41 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Particular Labor Markets - - - Labor Contracts
    • J50 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Labor-Management Relations, Trade Unions, and Collective Bargaining - - - General
    • J61 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Geographic Labor Mobility; Immigrant Workers

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