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Risk Aversion and Trade Union Membership

  • Laszlo Goerke
  • Markus Pannenberg

In an open-shop model of trade union membership with heterogeneity in risk attitudes, a worker's relative risk aversion can affect the decision to join a trade union. Furthermore, a shift in risk attitudes can alter collective bargaining outcomes. Using German panel data (GSOEP) and three novel direct measures of individual risk aversion, we find evidence of a significantly positive relationship between risk aversion and the likelihood of union membership. Additionally, we observe a negative correlation between bargained wages in aggregate and average risk preferences of union members. Our results suggest that an overall increase in risk aversion contributes to wage moderation and promotes employment.

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File URL: http://www.diw.de/documents/publikationen/73/diw_01.c.79472.de/dp770.pdf
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Paper provided by DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research in its series Discussion Papers of DIW Berlin with number 770.

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Length: 23 p.
Date of creation: 2008
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:diw:diwwpp:dp770
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  1. Laszlo Goerke & Markus Pannenberg, 2007. "Trade Union Membership and Works Councils in West Germany," Industrielle Beziehungen - Zeitschrift fuer Arbeit, Organisation und Management - The German Journal of Industrial Relations, Rainer Hampp Verlag, vol. 14(2), pages 154 - 175.
  2. Gert G. Wagner & Joachim R. Frick & Jürgen Schupp, 2007. "The German Socio-Economic Panel Study (SOEP): Scope, Evolution and Enhancements," SOEPpapers on Multidisciplinary Panel Data Research 1, DIW Berlin, The German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP).
  3. Acemoglu, D. & Shimer, R., 1997. "Efficient Unemployment Insurance," Working papers 97-9, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
  4. Oswald, Andrew J, 1982. "The Microeconomic Theory of the Trade Union," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 92(367), pages 576-95, September.
  5. Agell, Jonas & Lommerud, Kjell Erik, 1992. "Union Egalitarianism as Income Insurance," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 59(235), pages 295-310, August.
  6. Armin Falk & David Huffman & Gert Wagner & Jurgen Schupp & Thomas Dohmen & Uwe Sunde, 2005. "Individual risk attitudes: New evidence from a large, representative, experimentally-validated survey," Framed Field Experiments 00140, The Field Experiments Website.
  7. A L Booth & M Chatterji, . "Union Membership And Wage Bargaining When Membership Is Not Compulsory," Dundee Discussion Papers in Economics 048, Economic Studies, University of Dundee.
  8. Schnabel, Claus & Wagner, Joachim, 2003. "Trade union membership in Eastern and Western Germany: convergence or divergence?," Discussion Papers 18, Friedrich-Alexander-University Erlangen-Nuremberg, Chair of Labour and Regional Economics.
  9. Moreton, David, 1999. "A Model of Labour Productivity and Union Density in British Private Sector Unionised Establishments," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 51(2), pages 322-44, April.
  10. Bernd Fitzenberger & Karsten Kohn & Qingwei Wang, 2011. "The erosion of union membership in Germany: determinants, densities, decompositions," Journal of Population Economics, Springer, vol. 24(1), pages 141-165, January.
  11. Robert B. Barsky & Miles S. Kimball & F. Thomas Juster & Matthew D. Shapiro, 1995. "Preference Parameters and Behavioral Heterogeneity: An Experimental Approach in the Health and Retirement Survey," NBER Working Papers 5213, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. Mark Stewart, 2002. "Semi-nonparametric estimation of extended ordered probit models," United Kingdom Stata Users' Group Meetings 2003 04, Stata Users Group.
  13. Sampson, Anthony A, 1983. "Employment Policy in a Model with a Rational Trade Union," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 93(37), pages 297-311, June.
  14. Booth, Alison L, 1985. "The Free Rider Problem and a Social Custom Model of Trade Union Membership," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 100(1), pages 253-61, February.
  15. Laszlo Goerke & Markus Pannenberg, 2004. "Norm-Based Trade Union Membership: Evidence for Germany," German Economic Review, Verein für Socialpolitik, vol. 5(4), pages 481-504, November.
  16. Stewart, Mark B., 2005. "A comparison of semiparametric estimators for the ordered response model," Computational Statistics & Data Analysis, Elsevier, vol. 49(2), pages 555-573, April.
  17. Steffen Andersen & Glenn W. Harrison & Morten I. Lau & E. Elisabet Rutström, 2008. "Lost In State Space: Are Preferences Stable?," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 49(3), pages 1091-1112, 08.
  18. Nickell, Stephen J, 1990. "Unemployment: A Survey," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 100(401), pages 391-439, June.
  19. Gabler, Siegfried & Laisney, Francois & Lechner, Michael, 1993. "Seminonparametric Estimation of Binary-Choice Models with an Application to Labor-Force Participation," Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, American Statistical Association, vol. 11(1), pages 61-80, January.
  20. McDonald, Ian M, 1991. "Insiders and Trade Union Wage Bargaining," The Manchester School of Economic & Social Studies, University of Manchester, vol. 59(4), pages 395-407, December.
  21. Burda,M.C., 1995. "Unions and Wage Insurance," Papers 596, Stockholm - International Economic Studies.
  22. Schnabel, Claus, 2002. "Determinants of trade union membership," Discussion Papers 15, Friedrich-Alexander-University Erlangen-Nuremberg, Chair of Labour and Regional Economics.
  23. Blair, Douglas H & Crawford, David L, 1984. "Labor Union Objectives and Collective Bargaining," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 99(3), pages 547-66, August.
  24. Barsky, Robert B, et al, 1997. "Preference Parameters and Behavioral Heterogeneity: An Experimental Approach in the Health and Retirement Study," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 112(2), pages 537-79, May.
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