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Union free-riding in Britain and New Zealand

  • Alex Bryson

The percentage of workers who choose not to join the union available to them at their workplace has been rising in Britain and New Zealand. Social custom, union instrumentality, the fixed costs of joining, employee perceptions of management attitudes to unionization and employee problems at work all influence the propensity to free-ride. Ideological convictions regarding the role of unions also play some role, as do private excludable goods. There is little indication of employer-inspired policies substituting for unionization where unions are already present. Having accounted for all these factors, free-riding remains more common in New Zealand than in Britain.

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File URL: http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/19873/
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Paper provided by London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library in its series LSE Research Online Documents on Economics with number 19873.

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Length: 36 pages
Date of creation: Jan 2006
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:ehl:lserod:19873
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Web page: http://www.lse.ac.uk/

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  1. Alex Bryson & Rafael Gomez, 2003. "Why Have Workers Stopped Joining Unions?," CEP Discussion Papers dp0589, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
  2. Barry T. Hirsch & Edward J. Schumacher, 2000. "Private Sector Union Density and the Wage Premium: Past, Present, and Future," Working Papers 0015, East Carolina University, Department of Economics.
  3. Naylor, R. & Cripps, M., 1991. "An Economic Theory of the Open Shop Trade Union," The Warwick Economics Research Paper Series (TWERPS) 372, University of Warwick, Department of Economics.
  4. Moreton, David R., 1998. "An open shop trade union model of wages, effort and membership," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 14(3), pages 511-527, August.
  5. Schnabel, Claus, 2002. "Determinants of trade union membership," Discussion Papers 15, Friedrich-Alexander-University Erlangen-Nuremberg, Chair of Labour and Regional Economics.
  6. Akerlof, George A, 1980. "A Theory of Social Custom, of Which Unemployment May be One Consequence," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 94(4), pages 749-75, June.
  7. Booth, Alison L & Chatterji, Monojit, 1994. "Union Membership and Wage Bargaining When Membership is Not Compulsory," CEPR Discussion Papers 884, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  8. Forth, John & Millward, Neil, 2002. "Union effects on pay levels in Britain," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 9(4), pages 547-561, September.
  9. Clive R. Belfield & John S. Heywood, 2004. "Do HRM Practices Influence the Desire for Unionization? Evidence across Workers, Workplaces, and Co-Workers for Great Britain," Journal of Labor Research, Transaction Publishers, vol. 25(2), pages 279-300, April.
  10. 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.
  11. Stewart, Mark B, 1986. "Collective Bargaining Arrangements Closed Shops and Relative Pay," The Warwick Economics Research Paper Series (TWERPS) 273, University of Warwick, Department of Economics.
  12. 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.
  13. Naylor, Robin & Raaum, Oddbjorn, 1993. "The Open Shop Union, Wages, and Management Opposition," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 45(4), pages 589-604, October.
  14. Edward J. Schumacher, 1999. "What Explains Wage Differences Between Union Members and Covered Nonmembers?," Southern Economic Journal, Southern Economic Association, vol. 65(3), pages 493-512, January.
  15. Jack Fiorito, 2001. "Human Resource Management Practices and Worker Desires for Union Representation," Journal of Labor Research, Transaction Publishers, vol. 22(2), pages 335-354, April.
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