Unions, Workers, and Wages at the Peak of the American Labor Movement

49 Pages Posted: 19 Jun 2017

See all articles by Brantly Callaway

Brantly Callaway

Temple University

William J. Collins

Vanderbilt University - College of Arts and Science - Department of Economics; The Brookings Institution; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Date Written: June 2017

Abstract

We study a novel dataset compiled from archival records, which includes information on men’s wages, union status, educational attainment, work history, and other background variables for several cities circa 1950. Such data are extremely rare for the early post-war period when U.S. unions were at their peak. After describing patterns of selection into unions, we measure the union wage premium using unconditional quantile methods. The wage premium was larger at the bottom of the income distribution than at the middle or higher, larger for African Americans than for whites, and larger for those with low levels of education. Counterfactuals are consistent with the view that unions substantially narrowed urban wage inequality at mid-century.

Suggested Citation

Callaway, Brantly and Collins, William J., Unions, Workers, and Wages at the Peak of the American Labor Movement (June 2017). NBER Working Paper No. w23516. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2988737

Brantly Callaway (Contact Author)

Temple University ( email )

Philadelphia, PA 19122
United States

HOME PAGE: http://brantlycallaway.com

William J. Collins

Vanderbilt University - College of Arts and Science - Department of Economics ( email )

Box 1819 Station B
Nashville, TN 37235
United States
615-322-3428 (Phone)

The Brookings Institution

1775 Massachusetts Ave. NW
Washington, DC 20036-2188
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

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