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Why Unions Reduce Wage Inequality, I - A Theory of Domino Effects

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  • Stennek, Johan

    (Department of Economics, School of Business, Economics and Law, Göteborg University)

Abstract

Numerous empirical studies show that unions reduce wage differences. But surprisingly few attempts have been made to understand why. Swedish unions reveal that the reason is both ideological and strategic. Relying on employers to voluntarily increase higher wages, to protect efficiency-enhancing wage-differences, unions can focus on increasing the lowest wages without sacrificing higher wages. Since all workers gain, egalitarian wage policies promote unity among workers with different productivity. I formalize these ideas and draw implications for the current debate on capping collectively negotiated minimum wages in Europe. The model combines wage bargaining, efficiency wages, internal union politics and coalition formation.

Suggested Citation

  • Stennek, Johan, 2012. "Why Unions Reduce Wage Inequality, I - A Theory of Domino Effects," Working Papers in Economics 539, University of Gothenburg, Department of Economics, revised Jun 2015.
  • Handle: RePEc:hhs:gunwpe:0539
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    inequality; wage differences; minimum wages; trade unions; collective negotiations; strategic commitment;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

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

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