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Youth-adult differences in the demand for unionisation: are American, British, and Canadian workers all that different?

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  • Bryson, Alex
  • Gomez, Rafael
  • Gunderson, Morley
  • Meltz, Noah

Abstract

This paper examines demand for union membership amongst young workers in Britain, Canada and the United States. The paper benchmarks youth demands for collective representation against those of adult workers and finds that a large and significant representation gap exists in all three countries. Using a model of representation advanced by Farber (1982) and Riddell (1993) we find that a majority of the union density differential between young and adult workers is due to supply-side constraints rather than a lower desire for unionisation on the part of the young. This finding lends credence to two conjectures made in the paper; the first is that tastes for collective representation do not differ among workers (either by nationality or by age) and second that union representation can be fruitfully modelled as an experience good. The experience good properties of union membership explain the persistence of union density differentials amongst youth and adults both over time and across countries.

Suggested Citation

  • Bryson, Alex & Gomez, Rafael & Gunderson, Morley & Meltz, Noah, 2002. "Youth-adult differences in the demand for unionisation: are American, British, and Canadian workers all that different?," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 20095, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
  • Handle: RePEc:ehl:lserod:20095
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    File URL: http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/20095/
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Porter, Michael E, 1974. "Consumer Behavior, Retailer Power and Market Performance in Consumer Goods Industries," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 56(4), pages 419-436, November.
    2. Henry S. Farber, 1982. "The Determination of the Union Status of Workers," NBER Working Papers 1006, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. W. Craig Riddell, 1993. "Unionization in Canada and the United States: A Tale of Two Countries," NBER Chapters,in: Small Differences That Matter: Labor Markets and Income Maintenance in Canada and the United States, pages 109-148 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Rafael Gomez & Seymour Martin Lipset & Noah Meltz, 2001. "Frustrated Demand for Unionisation: the Case of the United States and Canada Revisited," CEP Discussion Papers dp0492, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
    5. Farber, Henry S., 1983. "The Determination of the Union Status of Workers," The Warwick Economics Research Paper Series (TWERPS) 227, University of Warwick, Department of Economics.
    6. Gomez, Rafael & Gunderson, Morley & Meltz, Noah, 2001. "From 'playstations' to 'workstations': youth preferences for unionisation in Canada," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 20100, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    7. H. S. Farber, 1982. "The Determination of the Union Status of Workers," Working papers 299, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
    8. Towers, Brian, 1997. "The Representation Gap: Change and Reform in the British and American Workplace," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780198289463.
    9. Henry S. Farber, 2001. "Notes on the Economics of Labor Unions," Working Papers 831, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
    10. Farber, Henry S., 1982. "The Determination Of The Union Status Of Workers," Economic Research Papers 269170, University of Warwick - Department of Economics.
    11. Stigler, George J & Becker, Gary S, 1977. "De Gustibus Non Est Disputandum," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 67(2), pages 76-90, March.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Michele Campolieti & Rafael Gomez & Morley Gunderson, 2013. "D oes N on-Union E mployee R epresentation A ct as a C omplement or S ubstitute to U nion V oice? E vidence from C anada and the U nited S tates," Industrial Relations: A Journal of Economy and Society, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 52, pages 378-396, January.
    2. Helen Lam & Mark Harcourt, 2007. "A New Approach to Resolving the Right-to-work Ethical Dilemma," Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, vol. 73(3), pages 231-243, July.
    3. Schnabel, Claus & Wagner, Joachim, 2005. "Determinants of Union Membership in 18 EU Countries : Evidence from Micro Data, 2002/03," Discussion Papers 31, Friedrich-Alexander University Erlangen-Nuremberg, Chair of Labour and Regional Economics.
    4. Schnabel, Claus, 2012. "Union membership and density: Some (not so) stylized facts and challenges," Discussion Papers 81, Friedrich-Alexander University Erlangen-Nuremberg, Chair of Labour and Regional Economics.
    5. Jonathan E. Booth & John W. Budd & Kristen M. Munday, 2010. "Never Say Never? Uncovering the Never-Unionized in the United States," British Journal of Industrial Relations, London School of Economics, vol. 48(1), pages 26-52, March.
    6. Daniele Checchi & Jelle Visser & Herman G. van de Werfhorst, 2010. "Inequality and Union Membership: The Influence of Relative Earnings and Inequality Attitudes," British Journal of Industrial Relations, London School of Economics, vol. 48(1), pages 84-108, March.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Unions; Youth Preferences; Comparative Labour Markets;

    JEL classification:

    • J51 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Labor-Management Relations, Trade Unions, and Collective Bargaining - - - Trade Unions: Objectives, Structure, and Effects
    • J31 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Wage Level and Structure; Wage Differentials

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