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Why have workers stopped joining unions? Accounting for the rise in never-membership in Britain

Author

Listed:
  • Bryson, Alex
  • Gomez, Rafael

Abstract

This paper tracks the rise in the percentage of employees who have never become union members (‘never-members’) 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.

Suggested Citation

  • Bryson, Alex & Gomez, Rafael, 2005. "Why have workers stopped joining unions? Accounting for the rise in never-membership in Britain," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 360, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
  • Handle: RePEc:ehl:lserod:360
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    File URL: http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/360/
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. John T. Addison & Alex Bryson & Paulino Teixeira & André Pahnke, 2011. "Slip Sliding Away: Further Union Decline In Germany And Britain," Scottish Journal of Political Economy, Scottish Economic Society, vol. 58(4), pages 490-518, September.
    2. John T. Addison & Alex Bryson & Paulino Teixeira & André Pahnke & Lutz Bellmann, 2013. "The Extent of Collective Bargaining and Workplace Representation: Transitions between States and their Determinants. A Comparative Analysis of Germany and Great Britain," Scottish Journal of Political Economy, Scottish Economic Society, vol. 60(2), pages 182-209, May.
    3. Glynne Williams & Martin Quinn, 2014. "Macmillan's children? Young workers and trade unions in the early 1960s," Industrial Relations Journal, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 45(2), pages 137-152, March.
    4. Andy Hodder, 2014. "Organising young workers in the Public and Commercial Services union," Industrial Relations Journal, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 45(2), pages 153-168, March.
    5. David G. Blanchflower & Alex Bryson, 2010. "The Wage Impact of Trade Unions in the UK Public and Private Sectors," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 77(305), pages 92-109, January.
    6. 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.
    7. Jeremy Waddington & Allan Kerr, 2009. "Transforming a Trade Union? An Assessment of the Introduction of an Organizing Initiative," British Journal of Industrial Relations, London School of Economics, vol. 47(1), pages 27-54, March.
    8. Alex Bryson & Richard Freeman & Rafael Gomez & Paul Willman, 2017. "The Twin Track Model of Employee Voice: An Anglo-American Perspective on Union Decline and the Rise of Alternative Forms of Voice," DoQSS Working Papers 17-13, Department of Quantitative Social Science - UCL Institute of Education, University College London.
    9. repec:bla:apacel:v:30:y:2016:i:2:p:45-56 is not listed on IDEAS
    10. Jeremy Waddington & Allan Kerr, 2015. "Joining UNISON: does the reform of a union organising strategy change how members perceive their recruitment?," Industrial Relations Journal, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 46(3), pages 187-207, May.
    11. Melanie Simms, 2013. "Special Issue. Edited by: Gregor Murray, Christian Lévesque, Christian Dufour and Adelheid Hege," Industrial Relations Journal, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 44(4), pages 373-388, July.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Union membership JEL classification codes : J31; J50; J51;

    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
    • J50 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Labor-Management Relations, Trade Unions, and Collective Bargaining - - - General

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