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The Decentralization of Wage Bargaining: Four Cases

Listed author(s):
  • Karlson, Nils


    (The Ratio Institute)

  • Lindberg, Henrik


    (The Ratio Institute)

The paper contributes to the discussion about the possible trends and processes towards decentralization of wage bargaining or wage setting within the OECD-countries since the 1970s. Based on a data set of 16 OECD countries from 1950 to 2000 our results show that in terms of bargaining level the trend is clear towards decentralization since the 1970s, even though there are important exceptions. In terms of confederal involvement the major decrease occurs among the Nordic countries and the Netherlands, whereas many of the other countries have had a status quo more or less. In terms of government involvement, however, the change is the almost non-existent. The overall tendency is still towards less centralisation, even though a number of countries have not changed or have moved in the opposite direction. Sweden, Denmark, UK and the Netherlands experience the largest decreases in decentralization overall. The processes of decentralization of wage bargaining look very differently in each country. It may occur through changes in the collective agreements themselves or through individual wage-setting outside the system of collective agreements. And the decentralization process may occur both in a context of cooperation between the labor-market organizations or in a setting of conflicts.

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Paper provided by The Ratio Institute in its series Ratio Working Papers with number 178.

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Length: 31 pages
Date of creation: 19 Sep 2011
Handle: RePEc:hhs:ratioi:0178
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The Ratio Institute, P.O. Box 5095, SE-102 42 Stockholm, Sweden

Phone: 08-441 59 00
Fax: 08-441 59 29
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  1. Plasman, Robert & Rusinek, Michael & Rycx, Francois, 2006. "Wages and the Bargaining Regime under Multi-level Bargaining: Belgium, Denmark and Spain," IZA Discussion Papers 1990, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  2. Moene, K.O. & Wallerstein, M. & Hoel, M., 1992. "Bargaining Structure and Economic Performance," Memorandum 10/1992, Oslo University, Department of Economics.
  3. Robert Kilroy-Silk, 1969. "The Royal Commission on Trade Unions and Employers' Associations," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 22(4), pages 544-558, July.
  4. Harry C. Katz, 1993. "The Decentralization of Collective Bargaining: A Literature Review and Comparative Analysis," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 47(1), pages 3-22, October.
  5. Christian M. Dahl & Daniel le Maire & Jakob R. Munch, 2013. "Wage Dispersion and Decentralization of Wage Bargaining," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 31(3), pages 501-533.
  6. Lena Granqvist & Håkan Regnér, 2008. "Decentralized Wage Formation in Sweden," British Journal of Industrial Relations, London School of Economics, vol. 46(3), pages 500-520, 09.
  7. William Brown, 1993. "The Contraction of Collective Bargaining in Britain," British Journal of Industrial Relations, London School of Economics, vol. 31(2), pages 189-200, 06.
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