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Why have workers stopped joining unions?

  • Alex Bryson
  • Rafael Gomez

This paper tracks the rise in the percentage of employees who have never become union members (¿nevermembers¿) since the early 1980s and shows that it is the reduced likelihood of ever becoming a member rather than the haemorrhaging of existing members which is behind the decline in overall union membership in Britain. We estimate the determinants of ¿never-membership¿ and consider how much of the rise can be explained by structural change in the labour market and how much by change in preferences among employees. We find a similar trend in the unionised sector, indicating that the rise in never-membership for the economy as a whole is not linked solely to a decline in the number of recognised workplaces.

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File URL: http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/20022/
File Function: Open access version.
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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 20022.

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Length: 35 pages
Date of creation: Nov 2003
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:ehl:lserod:20022
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Web page: http://www.lse.ac.uk/

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  1. Peter Kennedy, 2003. "A Guide to Econometrics, 5th Edition," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 5, volume 1, number 026261183x, June.
  2. Stephen Machin, 2000. "Union decline in Britain," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 20191, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
  3. Richard Freeman & Jeffrey Pelletier, 1989. "The Impact of Industrial Relations Legislation on British Union Density," NBER Working Papers 3167, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Carruth, Alan A & Disney, Richard F, 1988. "Where Have Two Million Trade Union Members Gone?," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 55(217), pages 1-19, February.
  5. Alex Bryson & Rafael Gomez, 2003. "Segmentation, switching costs and the demand for unionization in Britain," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 4947, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
  6. Green, Francis, 1990. "Trade Union Availability and Trade Union Membership in Britain," The Manchester School of Economic & Social Studies, University of Manchester, vol. 58(4), pages 378-94, December.
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