NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

Unionization and Wage Inequality: A Comparative Study of the U.S, the U.K., and Canada

David Card, Thomas Lemieux, W. Craig Riddell

NBER Working Paper No. 9473
Issued in February 2003
NBER Program(s):   LS

This paper presents a comparative analysis of the link between unionization and wage inequality in the U.S., the U.K., and Canada. Our main motivation is to see whether unionization can account for differences and trends in wage inequality in industrialized countries. We focus on the U.S., the U.K., and Canada because the institutional arrangements governing unionization and collective bargaining are relatively similar in these three countries. The three countries also share large non-union sectors that can be used as a comparison group for the union sector. Using comparable micro data for the last two decades, we find that unions have remarkably similar qualitative impacts in all three countries. In particular, unions tend to systematically reduce wage inequality among men, but have little impact on wage inequality for women. We conclude that unionization helps explain a sizable share of cross-country differences in male wage inequality among the three countries. We also conclude that de-unionization explains a substantial part of the growth in male wage inequality in the U.K. and the U.S. since the early 1980s.

download in pdf format
   (575 K)

email paper

A non-technical summary of this paper is available in the July 2003 NBER digest.  You can sign up to receive the NBER Digest by email.

This paper is available as PDF (575 K) or via email.

Machine-readable bibliographic record - MARC, RIS, BibTeX

Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w9473

Published: Card, David, Thomas Lemieux and W. Craig Riddell. “Unions and Wage Inequality.” Journal of Labor Research 25 (Fall 2004).

Users who downloaded this paper also downloaded these:
Card w6520 Falling Union Membership and Rising Wage Inequality: What's the Connection?
Lemieux Unions and Wage Inequality in Canada and the United States
Riddell Unionization in Canada and the United States: A Tale of Two Countries
Freeman w11410 What Do Unions Do?: The 2004 M-Brane Stringtwister Edition
Card w4195 The Effect of Unions on the Distribution of Wages: Redistribution or Relabelling?
 
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