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Determinants of Trade Union Membership in Western Germany: Evidence from Micro Data, 1980-2000

  • Schnabel, Claus


    (University of Erlangen-Nuremberg)

  • Wagner, Joachim


    (Leuphana University Lüneburg)

An empirical analysis of various waves of the ALLBUS social survey shows that union density fell substantially in West Germany from 1980 to 2000. Such a negative trend can be observed for men and women and for different groups of the workforce. Repeated crosssectional analyses suggest that a number of personal, occupational and attitudinal variables such as sex, occupational status, firm size and political orientation play a role in the unionization process, although the influence of many variables is not robust over time. While the results are consistent with cost-benefit considerations on the sides of employees and unions, individualization theory and social custom theory is not consistently supported by our estimations.

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Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 708.

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Length: 26 pages
Date of creation: Jan 2003
Date of revision:
Publication status: published in: Socio-Economic Review, 2005, 3 (1), 1-24
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp708
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  1. Arulampalam, Wiji & Booth, Alison L. & Bryan, Mark L., 2003. "Training in Europe," ISER Working Paper Series 2003-23, Institute for Social and Economic Research.
  2. Naylor, Robin, 1990. "A social custom model of collective action," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 6(2), pages 201-216, October.
  3. Wagner, Joachim, 1990. "Gewerkschaftsmitgliedschaft und Arbeitseinkommen in der Bundesrepublik Deutschland. Eine ökonometrische Analyse mit Individualdaten," Hannover Economic Papers (HEP) dp-155, Leibniz Universität Hannover, Wirtschaftswissenschaftliche Fakultät.
  4. Jeremy Waddington & Colin Whitston, 1997. "Why Do People Join Unions in a Period of Membership Decline?," British Journal of Industrial Relations, London School of Economics, vol. 35(4), pages 515-546, December.
  5. 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.
  6. Addison, John T. & Bellmann, Lutz & Schnabel, Claus & Wagner, Joachim, 2002. "German Works Councils Old and New: Incidence, Coverage and Determinants," IZA Discussion Papers 495, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  7. 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.
  8. Bulkley, G. & Myles, G.D., 2000. "Individually-Relational Union Membership," Discussion Papers 0008, Exeter University, Department of Economics.
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  14. Ebbinghaus, Bernhard, 2002. "Dinosaurier der Dienstleistungsgesellschaft? Der Mitgliederschwund deutscher Gewerkschaften im historischen und internationalen Vergleich," MPIfG Working Paper 02/3, Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies.
  15. 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.
  16. 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.
  17. Schnabel, Claus & Wagner, Joachim, 2003. "Trade union membership in Eastern and Western Germany: convergence or divergence?," Discussion Papers 18, Friedrich-Alexander University Erlangen-Nuremberg, Chair of Labour and Regional Economics.
  18. Monroe Berkowitz, 1954. "The Economics of Trade Union Organization and Administration," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 7(4), pages 575-592, July.
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  21. 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.
  22. Nicola-Maria Riley, 1997. "Determinants of Union Membership: A Review," LABOUR, CEIS, vol. 11(2), pages 265-301, 06.
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