NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

British Unions in Decline: An Examination of the 1980s Fall in Trade Union Recognition

Richard Disney, Amanda Gosling, Stephen Machin

NBER Working Paper No. 4733
Issued in May 1994
NBER Program(s):   LS

The authors analyze establishment-level data from the three Workplace Industrial Relations Surveys of 1980, 1984 and 1990 to document and explain the sharp decline in unionization that occurred in Britain over the 1980s. Between 1980 and 1990 the proportion of British establishments which recognised manual or non-manual trade unions for collective bargaining over pay and conditions fell by almost 20 percent (from 0.67 to 0.54). The evidence reported demonstrates the importance of the interaction between the labour market, the product market, employer behaviour and the legislative framework in determining union recognition status in new establishments. The sharp fall in trade union recognition appears to be largely driven by a failure to achieve recognition status in establishments set up in the 1980s. These results, when taken in conjunction with recent changes in the nature of employment in the British labour market, seem to paint a bleak picture for unions and there appears to be no reason why the decline in union activity should not continue into the 1990s.

download in pdf format
   (411 K)

email paper

This paper is available as PDF (411 K) or via email.

Machine-readable bibliographic record - MARC, RIS, BibTeX

Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w4733

Published:

  • Published as "British Unions in Decline: Determinants of the 1980's Fallin Union Recognition", Industrial and Labor Relations Review, Vol. 48, no. 3 (1995): 403-419. Published as "What Has Happened to Union Recognition in Britain?",
  • Economica, Vol. 63, no. 249 (February 1996): 1-18.

Users who downloaded this paper also downloaded these:
Dickens and Leonard w1275 Accounting For The Decline in Union Membership
Freeman and Pelletier w3167 The Impact of Industrial Relations Legislation on British Union Density
Gosling and Machin w4732 Trade Unions and the Dispersion of Earnings in British Establishments, 1980-90
Troy Introduction to "Trade Union Membership, 1897-1962"
Freeman and Medoff w0364 The Two Faces of Unionism
 
Publications
Activities
Meetings
NBER Videos
Data
People
About

Support
National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02138; 617-868-3900; email: info@nber.org

Contact Us