Wage Effects of Unions and Industrial Councils in South Africa

Posted: 17 Aug 2001

See all articles by Kristin F. Butcher

Kristin F. Butcher

Wellesley College; NBER

Cecilia E. Rouse

Princeton University - Industrial Relations Section; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)


Using data for 1995, the authors estimate union wage premia of about 20% for African workers and 10% for white workers - roughly similar to estimates reported for other countries, including the United States. African nonunion workers who were covered by industrial council agreements received a premium of 6-10%; the premium was positive but not statistically significant for whites. Although the union/nonunion wage gap was smaller inside the industrial council system than outside it for Africans, the total union premium for union members covered by an industrial council agreement was similar to the union premium outside the industrial council system. Among Africans, the industrial council and union wage gaps were largest among low-wage workers. These findings, the authors conclude, do not support the common claim that a high union wage premium and the industrial council system are important causes of inflexibility in the South African labor market.

Suggested Citation

Butcher, Kristin Frances and Rouse, Cecilia E., Wage Effects of Unions and Industrial Councils in South Africa . Industrial and Labor Relations Review, January 2001. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=255170

Kristin Frances Butcher

Wellesley College ( email )

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Cecilia E. Rouse (Contact Author)

Princeton University - Industrial Relations Section ( email )

Princeton, NJ 08544-2098
United States
609-258-4042 (Phone)
609-258-2907 (Fax)

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

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Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

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