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Does union membership really reduce job satisfaction?

  • Alex Bryson
  • Lorenzo Cappellari
  • Claudio Lucifora

We investigate the effect of union membership on job satisfaction. Whilst it is common to study the effects of union status on satisfaction treating individual membership as given, in this paper, we account for the endogenous selection induced by the sorting of workers into unionised jobs. Using linked employer-employee data from the 1998 British Workplace Employee Relations Survey, we address the question of how the membership decision is related to overall job satisfaction and to satisfaction with pay. Once the endogeneity of membership is accounted for, the marked difference in job satisfaction between unionised and non-unionised workers characterising raw data disappears, indicating that a selection effect, rather than a causal effect, explains the relationship.

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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 20045.

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Length: 32 pages
Date of creation: May 2003
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:ehl:lserod:20045
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  1. Richard B. Freeman, 1977. "Job Satisfaction as an Economic Variable," NBER Working Papers 0225, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Lorenzo Cappellari & Claudio Lucifora & Giulio Piccirilli, 2004. "Union Activism, Workers' Satisfaction and Organizational Change," LABOUR, CEIS, vol. 18(1), pages 1-28, 03.
  3. Burdett, Kenneth & Mortensen, Dale T, 1998. "Wage Differentials, Employer Size, and Unemployment," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 39(2), pages 257-73, May.
  4. Miller, Paul W, 1990. "Trade Unions and Job Satisfaction," Australian Economic Papers, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 29(55), pages 226-48, December.
  5. Alex Bryson, 2002. "The Union Membership Wage Premium: An Analysis Using Propensity Score Matching," CEP Discussion Papers dp0530, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
  6. Andrew E. Clark and Andrew J. Oswald, . "Satisfaction and Comparison Income," Economics Discussion Papers 419, University of Essex, Department of Economics.
  7. George J. Borjas, 1979. "Job Satisfaction, Wages, and Unions," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 14(1), pages 21-40.
  8. Joni Hersch & Joe A. Stone, 1990. "Is Union Job Dissatisfaction Real?," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 25(4).
  9. Jovanovic, Boyan, 1979. "Job Matching and the Theory of Turnover," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 87(5), pages 972-90, October.
  10. Keith A. Bender & Peter J. Sloane, 1998. "Job satisfaction, trade unions, and exit-voice revisited," Industrial and Labor Relations Review, ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 51(2), pages 222-240, January.
  11. Michael E. Gordon & Angelo S. Denisi, 1995. "A re-examination of the relationship between union membership and job satisfaction," Industrial and Labor Relations Review, ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 48(2), pages 222-236, January.
  12. Kahneman, Daniel & Knetsch, Jack L & Thaler, Richard, 1986. "Fairness as a Constraint on Profit Seeking: Entitlements in the Market," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 76(4), pages 728-41, September.
  13. Clark, Andrew E. & Oswald, Andrew J., 1998. "Comparison-concave utility and following behaviour in social and economic settings," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 70(1), pages 133-155, October.
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