Unions and the Great Compression of Wage Inequality in the Us at Mid‐Century: Evidence from Local Labour Markets

25 Pages Posted: 5 Apr 2019

See all articles by William J. Collins

William J. Collins

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

Gregory Niemesh

Miami University; NBER

Date Written: May 2019

Abstract

This article tests whether places with higher exposure to unionization during the 1940s, due to their pre‐existing industrial composition, tended to have larger declines in wage inequality, conditional on local economic and demographic observables and regional trends. We find a strong negative correlation between exposure to unionization and changes in local inequality from 1940–50 and 1940–60. This does not appear to be underpinned by skill‐specific sorting of workers or by firms leaving places with high exposure to unionization. We also find that the correlation between exposure to unionization in the 1940s and the change in inequality after 1940 persists in long‐difference regressions to the end of the twentieth century.

Suggested Citation

Collins, William J. and Niemesh, Gregory, Unions and the Great Compression of Wage Inequality in the Us at Mid‐Century: Evidence from Local Labour Markets (May 2019). The Economic History Review, Vol. 72, Issue 2, pp. 691-715, 2019. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3367118 or http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/ehr.12744

William J. Collins (Contact Author)

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

Box 1819 Station B
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The Brookings Institution

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National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

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Gregory Niemesh

Miami University ( email )

Oxford, OH 45056
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.gregoryniemesh.net

NBER ( email )

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Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

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