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The union membership wage premium: an analysis using propensity score matching

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  • Bryson, Alex

Abstract

This paper estimates the size of the union membership wage premium by comparing wage outcomes for unionised workers with ''matched'' non-unionised workers. The method assumes selection on observables. For this identifying assumption to be plausible, one must be able to control for all characteristics affecting both union status and wages. This requires very informative data. We illustrate the value of the rich data offered by the linked employer-employee Workplace Employee Relations Survey (WERS) 1998 in implementing this methodology. We estimate the union membership premium for the whole private sector, among workers in workplaces where at least some workers are covered by collective bargaining, and in occupations with pay set by collective bargaining. We find a raw 17-25% union premium in gross hourly wages for the private sector in Britain, depending on the sub-group used. However, post-matching this difference falls to between 3% and 6%. This indicates that the higher pay of unionised workers is largely accounted for by their better underlying earnings capacity, which is associated with their individual characteristics, the jobs they do and the workplaces they find themselves in.

Suggested Citation

  • Bryson, Alex, 2002. "The union membership wage premium: an analysis using propensity score matching," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 4953, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
  • Handle: RePEc:ehl:lserod:4953
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Henry S. Farber, 2001. "Notes on the Economics of Labor Unions," Working Papers 831, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
    2. Budd, John W & Na, In-Gang, 2000. "The Union Membership Wage Premium for Employees Covered by Collective Bargaining Agreements," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 18(4), pages 783-807, October.
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    5. David Metcalf & Kirstine Hansen & Andy Charlwood, 2001. "Unions and the Sword of Justice: Unions and Pay Systems, Pay Inequality, Pay Discrimination and Low Pay," National Institute Economic Review, National Institute of Economic and Social Research, vol. 176(1), pages 61-75, April.
    6. Fernie, Sue & Gray, Helen, 2002. "It's a family affair: the effect of union recognition and human resource management on the provision of equal opportunities in the UK," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 20089, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    7. Blakemore, Arthur E & Hunt, Janet C & Kiker, B F, 1986. "Collective Bargaining and Union Membership Effects on the Wages of Male Youths," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 4(2), pages 193-211, April.
    8. Rajeev H. Dehejia & Sadek Wahba, 2002. "Propensity Score-Matching Methods For Nonexperimental Causal Studies," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 84(1), pages 151-161, February.
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    Cited by:

    1. Koevoets, Wim, 2007. "Union wage premiums in Great Britain: Coverage or membership?," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 14(1), pages 53-71, January.
    2. Camilla Jensen, 2004. "Formal Integration: FDI and trade in Europe," Baltic Journal of Economics, Baltic International Centre for Economic Policy Studies, vol. 5(1), pages 5-27, December.
    3. Bryson, Alex & Dorsett, Richard & Purdon, Susan, 2002. "The use of propensity score matching in the evaluation of active labour market policies," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 4993, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    4. Mathieu Bunel & Gilles Raveaud, 2012. "Union Membership does not pay: Evidence from recent French Micro Data," Economics Working Paper Archive (University of Rennes 1 & University of Caen) 201232, Center for Research in Economics and Management (CREM), University of Rennes 1, University of Caen and CNRS.
    5. Addison, John T. & Siebert, W. Stanley, 2002. "Changes in Collective Bargaining in the U.K," IZA Discussion Papers 562, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    6. A Charlwood, 2005. "The De-Collectivisation of Pay Setting in Britain 1990-1998: Incidence, Determinants and Impact," CEP Discussion Papers dp0705, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
    7. repec:eee:joinma:v:27:y:2013:i:2:p:83-97 is not listed on IDEAS
    8. Fernández, Rosa M. & Nordman, Christophe J., 2009. "Are there pecuniary compensations for working conditions?," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 16(2), pages 194-207, April.
    9. Paolo Buonanno & Dario Pozzoli, 2009. "Early Labour Market Returns to College Subject," LABOUR, CEIS, vol. 23(4), pages 559-588, December.
    10. Cuesta Laura, 2005. "Impacto de los sindicatos en Colombia: ¿mayores salarios y más desigualdad?," REVISTA DESARROLLO Y SOCIEDAD, UNIVERSIDAD DE LOS ANDES-CEDE, September.
    11. Mathieu Bunel & Gilles Raveaud, 2011. "Union Membership does not pay," Working Papers halshs-00868217, HAL.
    12. Seppo Kari & Jouko Ylä-Liedenpohja, 2004. "Cost of Capital for Cross-Border Investment: The Fallacy of Estonia as a Tax Haven," Baltic Journal of Economics, Baltic International Centre for Economic Policy Studies, vol. 5(1), pages 28-43, December.
    13. Tatiana Karabchuk, 2012. "Part-time and temporary workers in Russia: winners or losers?," Journal for Labour Market Research, Springer;Institute for Employment Research/ Institut für Arbeitsmarkt- und Berufsforschung (IAB), vol. 45(1), pages 23-39, March.
    14. John Schmitt, 2008. "The Union Wage Advantage for Low-Wage Workers," CEPR Reports and Issue Briefs 2008-17, Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR).
    15. Addison, John T. & Belfield, Clive R., 2002. "Unions and Establishment Performance: Evidence from the British Workplace Industrial/Employee Relations Surveys," IZA Discussion Papers 455, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    16. Arpino, Bruno & Mealli, Fabrizia, 2011. "The specification of the propensity score in multilevel observational studies," Computational Statistics & Data Analysis, Elsevier, vol. 55(4), pages 1770-1780, April.
    17. Abdul Wadud, 2013. "Impact of Microcredit on Agricultural Farm Performance and Food Security in Bangladesh," Working Papers 14, Institute of Microfinance (InM).
    18. Alex Bryson & Lorenzo Cappellari & Claudio Lucifora, 2004. "Does Union Membership Really Reduce Job Satisfaction?," British Journal of Industrial Relations, London School of Economics, vol. 42(3), pages 439-459, September.
    19. Manquilef-Bächler, Alejandra A. & Arulampalam, Wiji & Smith, Jennifer C., 2009. "Differences in Decline: Quantile Regression Analysis of Union Wage Differentials in the United Kingdom, 1991-2003," IZA Discussion Papers 4138, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    20. Rafael Rucha, 2011. "Hat eine freiwillige Mitgliedschaft in Berufsverbänden einen Effekt auf das Einkommen von Freiberuflern? – Eine Panelanalyse für Deutschland," FFB-Discussionpaper 94, Research Institute on Professions (Forschungsinstitut Freie Berufe (FFB)), LEUPHANA University Lüneburg.
    21. Addison, John T. & Bellmann, Lutz & Kölling, Arnd, 2002. "Unions, Works Councils and Plant Closings in Germany," IZA Discussion Papers 474, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    22. Raul Eamets & Epp Kalaste, 2004. "The Lack of Wage Setting Power of Estonian Trade Unions?," Baltic Journal of Economics, Baltic International Centre for Economic Policy Studies, vol. 5(1), pages 44-60, December.
    23. Panagiotopoulos, Miltiadis, 2005. "The Evolution of Trade Unions in Britain," MPRA Paper 4290, University Library of Munich, Germany, revised 2007.
    24. Charlwood, Andy, 2005. "The de-collectivisation of pay setting in Britain 1990-1998: incidence, determinants and impact," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 19881, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • R14 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - General Regional Economics - - - Land Use Patterns
    • J01 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - General - - - Labor Economics: General

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