Do Right-to-Work Laws Work? Evidence from Individual Well-Being and Economic Sentiment

57 Pages Posted: 3 Jan 2018 Last revised: 24 Jun 2019

See all articles by Christos Makridis

Christos Makridis

Stanford University; Columbia University - Columbia Business School; Arizona State University (ASU); Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)

Date Written: May 15, 2019


This paper investigates the effects of state right-to-work (RTW) laws on dimensions of individual well-being. Using licensed micro-data from Gallup between 2008-2017, this paper finds that the adoption of RTW laws is associated with a 0.029sd and 0.041sd increase in individual life satisfaction and economic sentiment, respectively. A difference-in-difference estimator suggests that these improvements are concentrated among union workers. These results are also robust to entropy balancing and border-pair approaches. Moreover, these improvements in well-being are consistent with an increase in competition among unions, which prompts them to provide higher quality services that are valued by their members.

Keywords: right-to-work, sentiment, union, well-being, welfare

JEL Classification: I31, J31, J38, J50

Suggested Citation

Makridis, Christos, Do Right-to-Work Laws Work? Evidence from Individual Well-Being and Economic Sentiment (May 15, 2019). Available at SSRN: or

Christos Makridis (Contact Author)

Stanford University ( email )

Stanford, CA 94305
United States

Columbia University - Columbia Business School ( email )

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Arizona State University (ASU) ( email )

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Tempe, AZ 85287
United States

Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) ( email )

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