Unions, Dynamism, and Economic Performance

48 Pages Posted: 6 Dec 2010  

Barry T. Hirsch

Georgia State University; IZA Institute of Labor Economics

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Abstract

This paper explores the relationship between economic performance and US unionism, focusing first on what we do and do not know based on empirical research handicapped by limited data on establishment and firm level collective bargaining coverage. Evidence on the relationship of unions with wages, productivity, profitability, investment, debt, employment growth, and business failures are all relevant in assessing the future of unions and public policy with respect to unions. A reasonably coherent story emerges from the empirical literature, albeit one that rests heavily on evidence that is dated and (arguably) unable to identify truly causal effects. The paperÔĺís principal thesis is that union decline has been tied fundamentally to competitive forces and economic dynamism. Implications of these findings for labor law policy and the future of worker voice institutions is discussed briefly in a final section.

Keywords: unions, economic performance, competition, dynamism

JEL Classification: J50, J20, J30

Suggested Citation

Hirsch, Barry T., Unions, Dynamism, and Economic Performance. IZA Discussion Paper No. 5342. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1720324

Barry T. Hirsch (Contact Author)

Georgia State University ( email )

Department of Economics
Andrew Young School of Policy Studies
Atlanta, GA 30302-3992
United States
404-413-0880 (Phone)
404-413-0145 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://www2.gsu.edu/bhirsch

IZA Institute of Labor Economics

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072
Germany

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