Labor Unions and Unequal Representation

46 Pages Posted: 15 Aug 2018

See all articles by Daniel Stegmueller

Daniel Stegmueller

Duke University - Department of Political Science

Michael Becher

Institute for Advanced Study in Toulouse

Konstantin Käppner

University of Konstanz

Date Written: July 23, 2018

Abstract

Recent research has documented that lawmakers are more responsive to the views of the affluent than to the less well-off. This raises the important question of whether there are institutions that can limit unequal representation. We argue that labor unions play this role and we provide evidence from the contemporary U.S. House of Representatives. Our extensive dataset combines a novel measure of district-level union strength, drawn from 350,000 administrative records, with income-specific measures of constituency preferences based on 223,000 survey respondents matched to 27 roll-call votes. Exploiting within-district variation in preference polarization, within-state variation in union strength and rich data on confounds, our analysis rules out a host of alternative explanations. In contrast to the view that unions have become too weak or fragmented to matter, they significantly dampen unequal responsiveness: a standard deviation increase in union membership increases legislative responsiveness towards the poor by about 9 percentage points.

Suggested Citation

Stegmueller, Daniel and Becher, Michael and Käppner, Konstantin, Labor Unions and Unequal Representation (July 23, 2018). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3220032 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3220032

Daniel Stegmueller (Contact Author)

Duke University - Department of Political Science ( email )

140 Science Drive (Gross Hall), 2nd floor
Duke University Mailcode: 90204
Durham, NC 27708-0204
United States

HOME PAGE: http://sites.duke.edu/stegmueller/

Michael Becher

Institute for Advanced Study in Toulouse ( email )

31015 Toulouse, Cedex 6
France

HOME PAGE: http://www.iast.fr/people/michael-becher

Konstantin Käppner

University of Konstanz ( email )

Universitaetstrasse 10
Konstanz, D-78457
Germany

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