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Determinants of Union Membership in 18 EU Countries: Evidence from Micro Data, 2002/03

  • Schnabel, Claus


    (University of Erlangen-Nuremberg)

  • Wagner, Joachim


    (Leuphana University Lüneburg)

Using representative individual-level data from the first round of the European Social Survey fielded in 2002/03, this paper provides an empirical analysis of unionization in 18 countries of the European Union. We show that union density varies considerably in Europe, ranging from 84 per cent in Denmark to 11 per cent in Portugal. Estimating identical models for each country, we find that individuals’ probability of union membership is significantly affected by their personal characteristics, their attitudes and the characteristics of their workplace, whereas social factors seem to play a minor role. The presence of a union at the workplace and employees’ attitudes concerning strong unions are the two variables with the most wide-spread effects on unionization.

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Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 1464.

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Length: 29 pages
Date of creation: Jan 2005
Date of revision:
Publication status: published in: Industrial Relations Journal, 2007, 38 (1), 5-32
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp1464
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  1. Moreton, David R., 1998. "An open shop trade union model of wages, effort and membership," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 14(3), pages 511-527, August.
  2. Jelle Visser, 2002. "Why Fewer Workers Join Unions in Europe: A Social Custom Explanation of Membership Trends," British Journal of Industrial Relations, London School of Economics, vol. 40(3), pages 403-430, 09.
  3. Daniele Checchi & Jelle Visser, 2002. "Pattern persistence in european trade union density," Departmental Working Papers 2002-01, Department of Economics, Management and Quantitative Methods at Università degli Studi di Milano.
  4. Arulampalam, Wiji & Booth, Alison L. & Bryan, Mark L., 2003. "Training in Europe," IZA Discussion Papers 933, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  5. Carola M. Frege, 1996. "Union Membership in Post-Socialist East Germany: Who Participates in Collective Action?," British Journal of Industrial Relations, London School of Economics, vol. 34(3), pages 387-413, 09.
  6. John H. Pencavel, 1971. "The Demand for Union Services: An Exercise," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 24(2), pages 180-190, January.
  7. Naylor, R., 1989. "A Social Custom Model Of Collective Action," The Warwick Economics Research Paper Series (TWERPS) 327, University of Warwick, Department of Economics.
  8. Booth, Alison L & Chatterji, Monojit, 1994. "Union Membership and Wage Bargaining When Membership is Not Compulsory," CEPR Discussion Papers 884, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  9. Alex Bryson & Rafael Gomez & Morley Gunderson & Noah Meltz, 2002. "Youth-adult differences in the demand for unionization: are American, British and Canadian workers all that different?," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 4956, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
  10. Bulkley, G. & Myles, G.D., 1996. "Individually Rational Union Membership," Discussion Papers 9612, Exeter University, Department of Economics.
  11. Daniele Checchi & Claudio Lucifora, 2002. "Unions and labour market institutions in Europe," Economic Policy, CEPR;CES;MSH, vol. 17(35), pages 361-408, October.
  12. George A. Akerlof, 1978. "A theory of social custom, of which unemployment may be one consequence," Special Studies Papers 118, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  13. Schnabel, Claus & Wagner, Joachim, 2003. "Trade Union Membership in Eastern and Western Germany: Convergence or Divergence?," IZA Discussion Papers 707, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  14. Jones, Stephen R G & McKenna, C J, 1994. "A Dynamic Model of Union Membership and Employment," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 61(242), pages 179-89, May.
  15. Corneo, Giacomo, 1995. "Social custom, management opposition, and trade union membership," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 39(2), pages 275-292, February.
  16. Bernhard Ebbinghaus & Jelle Visser, 1998. "When Institutions Matter: Union Growth and Decline in Western Europe, 1950-95," MZES Working Papers 30, MZES.
  17. George A. Akerlof, 1980. "A Theory of Social Custom, of which Unemployment may be One Consequence," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 94(4), pages 749-775.
  18. Naylor, R. & Cripps, M., 1991. "An Economic Theory of the Open Shop Trade Union," The Warwick Economics Research Paper Series (TWERPS) 372, University of Warwick, Department of Economics.
  19. Nicola-Maria Riley, 1997. "Determinants of Union Membership: A Review," LABOUR, CEIS, vol. 11(2), pages 265-301, 06.
  20. Schnabel, Claus, 2002. "Determinants of trade union membership," Discussion Papers 15, Friedrich-Alexander University Erlangen-Nuremberg, Chair of Labour and Regional Economics.
  21. Monroe Berkowitz, 1954. "The Economics of Trade Union Organization and Administration," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 7(4), pages 575-592, July.
  22. Booth, Alison L & Chatterji, Monojit, 1993. "Reputation, Membership and Wages in Open Shop Trade Union," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 45(1), pages 23-41, January.
  23. Naylor, Robin & Raaum, Oddbjorn, 1993. "The Open Shop Union, Wages, and Management Opposition," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 45(4), pages 589-604, October.
  24. Alison L. Booth, 1985. "The Free Rider Problem and a Social Custom Model of Trade Union Membership," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 100(1), pages 253-261.
  25. repec:sae:ilrrev:v:7:y:1954:i:4:p:575-578 is not listed on IDEAS
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