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The Rise and Fall of Unions in the U.S

Union membership displayed an inverted-U-shaped pattern over the 20th century, while the distribution of income sketched a U. A model of unions is developed to analyze these phenomena. There is a distribution of firms in economy. Firms hire capital, plus skilled and unskilled labor. Unionization is a costly process. A union decides how many firms to organize and its members' wage rate. Simulation of the developed model establishes that skilled-biased technological change, which affects the productivity of skilled labor relative to unskilled labor, can potentially explain the above facts. Statistical analysis suggests that skill-biased technological change is an important factor in de-unionization.

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Paper provided by Economie d'Avant Garde in its series Economie d'Avant Garde Research Reports with number 19.

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Date of creation: Feb 2012
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Handle: RePEc:eag:rereps:19
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.jeremygreenwood.net/EAG.htm

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  1. MacDonald, Glenn M & Robinson, Chris, 1992. "Unionism in a Competitive Industry," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 10(1), pages 33-54, January.
  2. Ray C. Fair & John B. Taylor, 1980. "Solution and Maximum Likelihood Estimation of Dynamic Nonlinear RationalExpectations Models," NBER Technical Working Papers 0005, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Leena Rudanko & Per Krusell, 2011. "Unions in a Frictional Labor Market," 2011 Meeting Papers 320, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  4. Restuccia, Diego & Vandenbroucke, Guillaume, 2014. "Explaining Educational Attainment across Countries and over Time," Working Papers 2014-48, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.
  5. Baris Kaymak & Omer Acikgoz, 2011. "The Rising Skill Premium and Deunionization in the United States," 2011 Meeting Papers 1433, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  6. Barry T. Hirsch & David A. MacPherson, 1993. "Union membership and coverage files from the Current Population Surveys: Note," Industrial and Labor Relations Review, ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 46(3), pages 574-578, April.
  7. Harold L. Cole & Lee E. Ohanian, 2001. "New Deal policies and the persistence of the Great Depression: a general equilibrium analysis," Working Papers 597, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  8. Katz, L.F. & Murphy, K.M., 1991. "Changes in Relative Wages, 1963-1987: Supply and Demand Factors," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 1580, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
  9. Jason G. Cummins & Giovanni L. Violante, 2002. "Investment-Specific Technical Change in the US (1947-2000): Measurement and Macroeconomic Consequences," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 5(2), pages 243-284, April.
  10. Samuel E. Henly & Juan M. Sanchez, 2009. "The U.S. establishment-size distribution: secular changes and sectoral decomposition," Economic Quarterly, Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond, issue Fall, pages 419-454.
  11. James A. Schmitz, Jr., 2005. "What determines productivity? lessons from the dramatic recovery of the U.S. and Canadian iron-ore industries following their early 1980s crisis," Staff Report 286, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  12. Ohanian, Lee E., 2009. "What - or who - started the great depression?," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 144(6), pages 2310-2335, November.
  13. Reder, Melvin W, 1988. "The Rise and Fall of Unions: The Public Sector and the Private," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 2(2), pages 89-110, Spring.
  14. Lee Ohanian & David Lagakos & Simeon Alder, 2012. "The Decline of the U.S. Rust Belt: A Macroeconomic Analysis," 2012 Meeting Papers 793, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  15. David Card & Thomas Lemieux & W. Craig Riddell, 2003. "Unionization and Wage Inequality: A Comparative Study of the U.S, the U.K., and Canada," NBER Working Papers 9473, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  16. 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.
  17. Ríos-Rull, José-Víctor & Santaeulàlia-Llopis, Raül, 2010. "Redistributive shocks and productivity shocks," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 57(8), pages 931-948, November.
  18. Mathieu Taschereau-Dumouchel, 2011. "The Union Threat," 2011 Meeting Papers 434, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  19. Greenwood, J. & Hercowitz, Z. & Krusell, P., 1996. "Long-Run Implications of Investment-Specific Technological Change," RCER Working Papers 420, University of Rochester - Center for Economic Research (RCER).
  20. Per Krusell & Lee E. Ohanian & Jose-Victor Rios-Rull & Giovanni L. Violante, 1997. "Capital-skill complementarity and inequality: a macroeconomic analysis," Staff Report 239, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
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