NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
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Daniel Herbst

Department of Economics
Eller College of Management
University of Arizona
Tucson, AZ 85721

E-Mail: EmailAddress: hidden: you can email any NBER-related person as first underscore last at nber dot org

NBER Working Papers and Publications

May 2018Unions and Inequality Over the Twentieth Century: New Evidence from Survey Data
with Henry S. Farber, Ilyana Kuziemko, Suresh Naidu: w24587
It is well-documented that, since at least the early twentieth century, U.S. income inequality has varied inversely with union density. But moving beyond this aggregate relationship has proven difficult, in part because of the absence of micro-level data on union membership prior to 1973. We develop a new source of micro-data on union membership, opinion polls primarily from Gallup (N ≈ 980, 000), to look at the effects of unions on inequality from 1936 to the present. First, we present a new time series of household union membership from this period. Second, we use these data to show that, throughout this period, union density is inversely correlated with the relative skill of union members. When density was at its peak in the 1950s and 1960s, union members were relatively less-skilled, w...
 
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