A Good Time to Stay Out? Strikes and the Business Cycle

23 Pages Posted: 26 May 2011

See all articles by Paul J. Devereux

Paul J. Devereux

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Robert A. Hart

University of Stirling - Department of Economics; Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA)

Date Written: June 2011

Abstract

In this article, we compile a unique historical dataset that records strike activity in the British engineering industry from 1920 to 1970. These data have the advantage of containing a fairly homogeneous set of companies and blue‐collar workers. They cover a long period with varying labour market conditions, include information that enables the addition of union and company fixed effects, and provide geographical detail that allows a district‐level analysis that controls for year and seasonal effects. We study the cyclicality of strike durations, strike incidence and strike outcomes, and distinguish between pay and non‐pay strikes. We find evidence that strikes over pay have countercyclical durations. However, in the post‐war period, the magnitude of this effect for pay‐related strikes is much reduced when union and firm fixed effects are included. These findings suggest that it is important when studying strike durations to take account of differences in the types of companies and unions that are involved in strikes at different points of the business cycle. We also find that strike outcomes tend to be more favourable to unions when the national unemployment rate is lower.

Suggested Citation

Devereux, Paul J. and Hart, Robert A., A Good Time to Stay Out? Strikes and the Business Cycle (June 2011). British Journal of Industrial Relations, Vol. 49, pp. s70-s92, 2011, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1853058 or http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-8543.2010.00800.x

Paul J. Devereux (Contact Author)

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Robert A. Hart

University of Stirling - Department of Economics ( email )

Stirling, Scotland FK9 4LA
United Kingdom
+44 1786 467 471 (Phone)
+44 1786 467 469 (Fax)

Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA)

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

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