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Institutional Affiliation: Brookings Institution
NBER Working Papers and Publications
|January 2018||From the Bargaining Table to the Ballot Box: Political Effects of Right to Work Laws|
with James Feigenbaum, Alexander Hertel-Fernandez: w24259
Labor unions directly affect wages, employment, industrial structure, and inequality. But unions also influence the economy and labor market indirectly through their effects on politics, providing candidates with voters, volunteers, and contributions, and lobbying on 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 and policy from 1980-2016. 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 Senate, House, and Gubernatorial races, as well as on state legislative control. Turnout is ...