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Inequality and Union Membership: The Influence of Relative Earnings and Inequality Attitudes

Daniele Checchi (), Jelle Visser and Herman van de Werfhorst

British Journal of Industrial Relations, 2010, vol. 48, issue 1, 84-108

Abstract: Using surveys from the International Social Survey Programme covering the period 1985–2002 for seven European countries (West and East Germany, Sweden, Norway, Italy, the Netherlands and Great Britain), we examine the effect of relative earnings on union membership and show that union density is higher among workers in the intermediate earnings group than among low or high earners. Next, we examine the association of inequality attitudes with union membership and demonstrate that union membership is not only motivated by instrumental considerations related to relative earnings, but also by normative concerns about inequality. We interpret our findings suggesting that rising earnings inequality is in itself a source of union decline.

Date: 2010
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Handle: RePEc:bla:brjirl:v:48:y:2010:i:1:p:84-108