Structural Changes in Unionization: 1973-1981
This paper presents a decomposition of the decline in union density into structural and within sector components using CPS data for private sector workers. We find that 58 to 68 percent of the decline in private sector unionization between 1973 and 1981 can be accounted for by structural changes in the economy, particularly in the occupational, educational and gender distribution of the workforce. This is a large impact, but we find that while structural change is important, its importance was not appreciably greate during the 1970s than during previous decades. At the same time, we find that the decline of private sector unionization within sectors has been pervasive, accounting for 32 to 42 percent of union decline. As part of this analysis we find that the decline in union density has been greater in those sectors of the economy where employment decline has been greater. This fact can help reconcile previous divergent findings on the importance of structural change.