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The Trade-Off between Wages and Employment in Trade Union Objectives


  • John H. Pencavel


This paper demonstrates that, contrary to a widely-held opinion, the determination of the goals of unions is fully amenable to empirical analysis. A characterization of the wage and employment-setting process in unionized markets is adopted and its qualitative implications examined. The first-order condition for this model is fitted to time- series data on the newspaper industry from ten cities. The Inter- national Typographical Union 's objective function reveals very restricted opportunities for substituting wages for employment in response to a change in the slope of the employer's labor demand function. Larger union locals place greater emphasis on wages versus employment than smaller union locals.

Suggested Citation

  • John H. Pencavel, 1982. "The Trade-Off between Wages and Employment in Trade Union Objectives," NBER Working Papers 0870, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:0870
    Note: LS

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Johnson, George E, 1975. "Economic Analysis of Trade Unionism," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 65(2), pages 23-28, May.
    2. Otto Eckstein & Thomas A. Wilson, 1962. "The Determination of Money Wages in American Industry," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 76(3), pages 379-414.
    3. Amemiya, Takeshi, 1974. "The nonlinear two-stage least-squares estimator," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 2(2), pages 105-110, July.
    4. McDonald, Ian M & Solow, Robert M, 1981. "Wage Bargaining and Employment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 71(5), pages 896-908, December.
    5. Dertouzos, James N & Pencavel, John H, 1981. "Wage and Employment Determination under Trade Unionism: The International Typographical Union," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 89(6), pages 1162-1181, December.
    6. Farber, Henry S, 1978. "Individual Preferences and Union Wage Determination: The Case of the United Mine Workers," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 86(5), pages 923-942, October.
    7. Rosen, Sherwin, 1970. "Unionism and the Occupational Wage Structure in the United States," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 11(2), pages 269-286, June.
    8. Oswald, Andrew J, 1982. "The Microeconomic Theory of the Trade Union," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 92(367), pages 576-595, September.
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