The Decline of Unionization in the United States: What Can Be Learned from Recent Experience?

46 Pages Posted: 31 Jul 2007 Last revised: 13 Sep 2010

See all articles by Henry S. Farber

Henry S. Farber

Princeton University; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Date Written: May 1987

Abstract

The dramatic decline in unionization over the last decade is investigated in the context of a supply/demand model of union status determination. Data from surveys conducted in 1977 and 1984 are used to decompose the decline into components due to a drop in the demand for union representation and a drop in the supply of union jobs relative to demand. It is found that there has been a substantial drop in demand that can be accounted for by an increase in the job satisfaction of nonunion workers and a decrease in nonunion workers' beliefs that unions improve wages and working conditions. It is also found that there has been a substantial drop in the supply of union jobs relative to demand that is attributed to an increase in employer resistance to unionization. Increased foreign and increased nonunion domestic competition (particularly in deregulated industries) are cited as the likely key underlying causes of these changes.

Suggested Citation

Farber, Henry S., The Decline of Unionization in the United States: What Can Be Learned from Recent Experience? (May 1987). NBER Working Paper No. w2267. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=347047

Henry S. Farber (Contact Author)

Princeton University ( email )

Industrial Relations Section
Firestone Library
Princeton, NJ 08544
United States
609-258-4044 (Phone)
609-258-2907 (Fax)

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

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