Unions Increase Job Satisfaction in the United States

30 Pages Posted: 26 Apr 2021 Last revised: 20 Jul 2021

See all articles by Benjamin Artz

Benjamin Artz

University of Wisconsin - Oshkosh - College of Business

David G. Blanchflower

Dartmouth College - Department of Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); University of Stirling - Department of Economics

Alex Bryson

UCL ; National Institute of Economic and Social Research (NIESR)

Date Written: April 2021

Abstract

We revisit the well-known negative association between union coverage and individuals’ job satisfaction in the United States, first identified over forty years ago. We find the association has flipped since the Great Recession such that union workers are now more satisfied than their non-union counterparts. This is found to be the case for younger and older workers in the National Longitudinal Surveys of Youth of 1979 and 1997. The change is apparent when we use the panel data to account for fixed differences in those who are and are not unionized, suggesting changes in worker sorting into union status are not the reason for the change. The absence of substantial change in the union wage gap, and the stability of results when conditioning on wages, both suggest the change is not associated with changes in unions’ wage bargaining. Instead, we find some diminution in unions’ ability to lower quit rates – albeit confined to older workers - which is suggestive of a decline in their effectiveness in operating as a ‘voice’ mechanism for unionized workers. We also present evidence suggestive of unions’ ability to minimize covered workers’ exposure to underemployment, a phenomenon that has negatively impacted non-union workers.

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Suggested Citation

Artz, Benjamin and Blanchflower, David G. and Bryson, Alex, Unions Increase Job Satisfaction in the United States (April 2021). NBER Working Paper No. w28717, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3834157

Benjamin Artz (Contact Author)

University of Wisconsin - Oshkosh - College of Business ( email )

United States

David G. Blanchflower

Dartmouth College - Department of Economics ( email )

Hanover, NH 03755
United States
603-646-2536 (Phone)
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National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

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University of Stirling - Department of Economics ( email )

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United Kingdom

Alex Bryson

UCL ( email )

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United Kingdom

HOME PAGE: http://https://iris.ucl.ac.uk/iris/browse/profile?upi=ABRYS65

National Institute of Economic and Social Research (NIESR) ( email )

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United Kingdom

HOME PAGE: http://www.niesr.ac.uk/staff/staffdetail.php?StaffID=307

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