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The Determination of the Union Status of Workers

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  • Henry S. Farber

Abstract

A model of the determination of the union status of workers is developed that incorporates the separate decisions of workers and potential union employers in a framework which recognizes the possibility of an excess supply of workers for existing union jobs.This theoretical framework results in an empirical problem of partial observability because information on union status is not sufficient to determine whether nonunion workers are nonunion because they do not desire union representation or because they were not hired by union employers despite a preference for union representation.The problem is solved by using data from the Quality of Employment Survey that have a unique piece of information on worker preferences which allows identification and estimation of the model.The empirical results yield some interesting insights into the process of union status determination that cannot be gained from a simple logit or probit analysis of unionization. Chief among these relate to the unioniza-tion of nonwhites and southerners.The well-known fact that nonwhites are more likely to be unionized than otherwise equivalent whites is found largelyto be due to a greater demand for union representation on the part of non-white workers. The equally well-known lower propensity to be unionized among southern workers is found to be due to a combination of a lower demand for union representation on the part of southern workers and a supply of union jobs which is more constrained relative to demand than in the North.

Suggested Citation

  • Henry S. Farber, 1982. "The Determination of the Union Status of Workers," NBER Working Papers 1006, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:1006
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Schmidt, Peter & Strauss, Robert P, 1976. "The Effect of Unions on Earnings and Earnings on Unions: A Mixed Logit Approach," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 17(1), pages 204-212, February.
    2. Ashenfelter, Orley & Johnson, George E, 1972. "Unionism, Relative Wages, and Labor Quality in U.S. Manufacturing Industries," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 13(3), pages 488-508, October.
    3. Ernst R. Berndt & Bronwyn H. Hall & Robert E. Hall & Jerry A. Hausman, 1974. "Estimation and Inference in Nonlinear Structural Models," NBER Chapters,in: Annals of Economic and Social Measurement, Volume 3, number 4, pages 653-665 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Richard B. Freeman, 1981. "The Effect of Unionism on Fringe Benefits," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 34(4), pages 489-509, July.
    5. Lee, Lung-Fei, 1978. "Unionism and Wage Rates: A Simultaneous Equations Model with Qualitative and Limited Dependent Variables," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 19(2), pages 415-433, June.
    6. Farber, Henry S & Saks, Daniel H, 1980. "Why Workers Want Unions: The Role of Relative Wages and Job Characteristics," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 88(2), pages 349-369, April.
    7. 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.
    8. Heckman, James, 2013. "Sample selection bias as a specification error," Applied Econometrics, Publishing House "SINERGIA PRESS", vol. 31(3), pages 129-137.
    9. John M. Abowd & Henry S. Farber, 1982. "Job Queues and the Union Status of Workers," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 35(3), pages 354-367, April.
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    Cited by:

    1. Richard B. Freeman & Jonathan S. Leonard, 1985. "Union Maids: Unions and the Female Workforce," NBER Working Papers 1652, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Alex Bryson & Rafael Gomez & Morley Gunderson & Noah Meltz, 2005. "Youth-Adult Differences in the Demand for Unionization: Are American, British, and Canadian Workers All That Different?," Journal of Labor Research, Transaction Publishers, vol. 26(1), pages 155-167, January.

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