NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
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James J. Feigenbaum

Department of Economics
Boston University
270 Bay State Road
Boston, MA 02215

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NBER Program Affiliations: DAE
NBER Affiliation: Faculty Research Fellow

NBER Working Papers and Publications

January 2018From the Bargaining Table to the Ballot Box: Political Effects of Right to Work Laws
with Alexander Hertel-Fernandez, Vanessa Williamson: w24259
Labor unions play a central role in the Democratic party coalition, providing candidates with voters, volunteers, and contributions, as well as lobbying policymakers. Has the sustained decline of organized labor hurt Democrats in elections and shifted public policy? We use the enactment of right-to-work laws—which weaken unions by removing agency shop protections—to estimate the effect of unions on politics from 1980 to 2016. Comparing counties on either side of a state and right-to-work border to causally identify the effects of the state laws, we find that right-to-work laws reduce Democratic Presidential vote shares by 3.5 percentage points. We find similar effects in US Senate, US House, and Gubernatorial races, as well as on state legislative control. Turnout is also 2 to 3 percentage...
 
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