Going Different Ways: Unionism in the U.S. and Other Advanced O.E.C.D. Countries

David G. Blanchflower, Richard B. Freeman

NBER Working Paper No. 3342
Issued in April 1990
NBER Program(s):   LS

In this paper we compare the changing pattern of unionization in OECD countries, review existing evidence, and present new information on cross-country differences in union-nonunion differentials in labor market outcomes, largely from the micro data files of the International Social Survey Programme cross-country surveys of 1985-87. Our analysis shows that American unions have a larger effect on wages but not on other outcomes than unions in other countries. We argue that the high union premium in the U.S. contributed to the decline in U.S. union density and to the consequent divergence of the U.S. industrial relations system from those in most OECD countries. Looking to the future, our findings suggest that U.S. unions must make major innovations in their tactics and policies to regain a position of strength in the private sector and that the nation will have to develop new industrial relations institutions to avoid the Congress and the judiciary intervening frequently in workplace decisions.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w3342

Published: Industrial Relations, 1992 p. 56-79

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