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Deunionization, Technical Change and Inequality

  • Acemoglu, Daron
  • Aghion, Philippe
  • Violante, Giovanni L

We argue that inequality and rapid deunionization are related, and that skill-biased technical change has been an important factor in deunionization as well as in the rise in inequality. Skill-biased technical change causes deunionization because it increases the outside option of skilled workers, undermining the coalition among skilled and unskilled worker in support of unions. Our approach implies that although deunionization is not the underlying cause of the increase in inequality, it amplifies the direct effect of skill-biased technical change by removing the wage compression imposed by unions. We also show that deunionization may happen inefficiently.

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Paper provided by C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers in its series CEPR Discussion Papers with number 2764.

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Date of creation: Apr 2001
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Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:2764
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  1. Berman, Eli & Bound, John & Machin, Stephen, 1997. "Implications of Skill-Biased Technological Change: International Evidence," Working Paper Series 486, Research Institute of Industrial Economics.
  2. Nicole M. Fortin & Thomas Lemieux, 1997. "Institutional Changes and Rising Wage Inequality: Is There a Linkage?," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 11(2), pages 75-96, Spring.
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  4. Per Krusell & Lee E. Ohanian & JosÈ-Victor RÌos-Rull & Giovanni L. Violante, 2000. "Capital-Skill Complementarity and Inequality: A Macroeconomic Analysis," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 68(5), pages 1029-1054, September.
  5. Acemoglu, Daron & Pischke, Jörn-Steffen, 1998. "The Structure of Wages and Investment in General Training," CEPR Discussion Papers 1833, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  6. Hogan, Chad, 2001. "Enforcement of Implicit Employment Contracts through Unionization," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 19(1), pages 171-95, January.
  7. Francis Green & Stephen Machin & David Wilkinson, 1999. "Trade unions and training practices in British workplaces," Industrial and Labor Relations Review, ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 52(2), pages 179-195, January.
  8. Katz, Lawrence F & Murphy, Kevin M, 1992. "Changes in Relative Wages, 1963-1987: Supply and Demand Factors," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 107(1), pages 35-78, February.
  9. Malcomson, James M, 1983. "Trade Unions and Economic Efficiency," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 93(369a), pages 51-65, Supplemen.
  10. Riddell, W.C., 1993. "Unionization in Canada and the United States: A Tale of Two Countries," Papers 1993-1, Queen's at Kingston - Sch. of Indus. Relat. Papers in Industrial Relations.
  11. Freeman, Richard B, 1988. "Contraction and Expansion: The Divergence of Private Sector and Public Sector Unionism in the United States," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 2(2), pages 63-88, Spring.
  12. Lynch, Lisa M, 1992. "Private-Sector Training and the Earnings of Young Workers," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 82(1), pages 299-312, March.
  13. Acemoglu, Daron, 1997. "Why Do New Technologies Complement Skills? Directed Technical Change and Wage Inequality," CEPR Discussion Papers 1707, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  14. 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.
  15. Katz, Lawrence F. & Autor, David H., 1999. "Changes in the wage structure and earnings inequality," Handbook of Labor Economics, in: O. Ashenfelter & D. Card (ed.), Handbook of Labor Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 26, pages 1463-1555 Elsevier.
  16. Galor, Oded & Moav, Omer, 1998. "Ability Biased Technological Transition, Wage Inequality and Growth," CEPR Discussion Papers 1972, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  17. Richard B. Freeman & Edward P. Lazear, 1994. "An Economic Analysis of Works Councils," NBER Working Papers 4918, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  18. Henry S. Farber & Alan Krueger, 1992. "Union Membership in the United States: The Decline Continues," Working Papers 685, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
  19. Richard B. Freeman, 1991. "How Much Has De-Unionisation Contributed to the Rise in Male Earnings Inequality?," NBER Working Papers 3826, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  20. Daron Acemoglu, 2000. "Technical Change, Inequality, and the Labor Market," NBER Working Papers 7800, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  21. Francesco Caselli, 1999. "Technological Revolutions," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(1), pages 78-102, March.
  22. Booth, Alison L, 1991. "Job-Related Formal Training: Who Receives It and What Is It Worth?," Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics, Department of Economics, University of Oxford, vol. 53(3), pages 281-94, August.
  23. Juhn, Chinhui & Murphy, Kevin M & Pierce, Brooks, 1993. "Wage Inequality and the Rise in Returns to Skill," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 101(3), pages 410-42, June.
  24. Peter Gottschalk, 1997. "Inequality, Income Growth, and Mobility: The Basic Facts," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 11(2), pages 21-40, Spring.
  25. 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.
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