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The Effect of Globalization on Union Bargaining and Price-Cost Margins of Firms

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  • Filip Abraham
  • Jozef Konings
  • Stijn Vanormelingen

Abstract

In recent years, Europe has witnessed an accelerated process of economic integration. Trade barriers were removed, the euro was introduced and ten new member states have joined the European Union. This paper analyzes how this process of increased economic integration has affected labor and product markets. To this end, we use a panel of Belgian manufacturing firms to estimate price-cost margins and union bargaining power and show how various measures of globalization affect them. Our findings can be summarized as follows: On average, firms set prices about 30% above marginal costs, but there is substantial variation across sectors, with the lowest mark-up around 19% and the highest around 52%. In addition, we find evidence that unions bargain over both wages and employment. We estimate an index of bargaining power, which reflects the fraction of profits that is passed on to workers into higher wages. Depending on the sector, this fraction varies between 6% and 18% and it increases with the markups of firms. Finally, we find that globalization puts pressure on both markups and union bargaining power, especially when there is increased competition from the low wage countries. This suggests that increased globalization is associated with a moderation of wage claims in unionized countries, which should be associated with positive effects on employment.

Suggested Citation

  • Filip Abraham & Jozef Konings & Stijn Vanormelingen, 2007. "The Effect of Globalization on Union Bargaining and Price-Cost Margins of Firms," LICOS Discussion Papers 18107, LICOS - Centre for Institutions and Economic Performance, KU Leuven.
  • Handle: RePEc:lic:licosd:18107
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Mark-ups; Trade Unions; International Trade;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • F16 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Trade and Labor Market Interactions
    • J50 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Labor-Management Relations, Trade Unions, and Collective Bargaining - - - General
    • L13 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance - - - Oligopoly and Other Imperfect Markets

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