Migration and Trade Union Rights
We study in this paper both theoretically and empirically the influence of trade union rights in origin countries on bilateral migration flows. Theoretically, we propose two complementary models. In the first model, trade union rights are supposed to increase the bargaining power of workers. We model these rights as a transfer from high-skilled workers to low-skilled workers, assuming that this latter category of workers will benefit more from freedom of association and collective bargaining. However, we do have to take into account the large extent of informal economy in lots of developing countries. If trade union rights are only enforced in the formal sector, workers from this sector will benefit from a wage premium. The most qualified will then be the first winners of an improvement of such rights if they are more employed in the formal sector. We then propose different alternative indexes measuring trade union rights. We find that, all things being equal, more trade union rights tend to be associated with less migration of low-skill and high-skilled workers. Effects are not significant for intermediate skill level. Lastly, we show that social tensions may have the opposite effect. If trade union rights are associated with more social instability, it may increase the level of migration. It emphasizes the importance of social dialogue.
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