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Do Unions Promote Members' Electoral Office Holding? Evidence from Correlates of State Legislatures' Occupational Shares

  • Sojourner, Aaron J.

    ()

    (University of Minnesota)

Controversies over the promise and perils of union political influence have erupted around the U.S. This study develops the first evidence on the degree to which labor unions develop members' political leadership in the broader community by studying the relationship between state legislators' occupations and the unionization rates of occupations across U.S. states. The fraction of legislators of a given occupation in a state increases with the occupation's rate of unionization in that state compared to the fraction of legislators of the same occupation in other states with lower unionization rates. This pattern shows up to varying degrees among the three public-sector and one private-sector occupations considered: K-12 teachers, police officers, fire fighters, and construction workers. It holds conditional on differences in observable state characteristics and when using state fixed effects. While much research has described the role of unions in influencing economic outcomes and in politics through lobbying, campaign contributions, and voter mobilization, this work adds a new perspective on the role of unions in society. They promote elected political leadership by individuals from working- and middle-class jobs. Arguments over the social value of this role of unions are explored.

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File URL: http://ftp.iza.org/dp6479.pdf
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Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 6479.

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Length: 30 pages
Date of creation: Apr 2012
Date of revision:
Publication status: Published in: Industrial and Labor Relations Review, 2013, 66 (2)
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp6479
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  1. Barry T. Hirsch & David A. MacPherson, 2003. "Union Membership and Coverage Database from the Current Population Survey: Note," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 56(2), pages 349-354, January.
  2. Daron Acemoglu, 2007. "Oligarchic Versus Democratic Societies," Carlo Alberto Notebooks 47, Collegio Carlo Alberto.
  3. Addison, John T & Hirsch, Barry T, 1989. "Union Effects on Productivity, Profits, and Growth: Has the Long Run Arrived?," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 7(1), pages 72-105, January.
  4. Roland Zullo, 2008. "Union Membership and Political Inclusion," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 62(1), pages 22-38, October.
  5. Barry T. Hirsch, 2004. "What Do Unions Do for Economic Performance?," Journal of Labor Research, Transaction Publishers, vol. 25(3), pages 415-456, July.
  6. Thomas Piketty & Emmanuel Saez, 2003. "Income Inequality In The United States, 1913-1998," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 118(1), pages 1-39, February.
  7. Gregory, Robert G. & Borland, Jeff, 1999. "Recent developments in public sector labor markets," Handbook of Labor Economics, in: O. Ashenfelter & D. Card (ed.), Handbook of Labor Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 53, pages 3573-3630 Elsevier.
  8. John DiNardo & David S. Lee, 2004. "Economic Impacts of New Unionization On Private Sector Employers: 1984-2001," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 119(4), pages 1383-1441, November.
  9. Roland Zullo, 2008. "Union Membership and Political Inclusion," Industrial and Labor Relations Review, ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 62(1), pages 22-38, October.
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