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Deunionization and job polarization – a macroeconomic model analysis for a small open economy

Thomas von Brasch, Marit Linnea Gjelsvik and Victoria Sparrman

Economic Systems Research, 2018, vol. 30, issue 3, 380-399

Abstract: Declining unionization rates and job polarization are two important labor market developments of recent decades. A large body of literature has analyzed these phenomena separately, but little has been done to see whether there is a link between them. We employ a macroeconomic model for a small open economy with a large input–output core to analyze how deunionization may cause job polarization. Our analysis shows that medium-skilled workers are negatively affected by deunionization, mainly as a result of the heterogeneity of the elasticities of substitution between different types of labor. While the elasticities of substitution between high- and medium-skilled labor are relatively low, the elasticities of substitution between medium- and low-skilled are relatively high. As a result, when deunionization leads to increased wage dispersion, we find that demand for low-skilled increases at the expense of medium-skilled labor, thus yielding a more polarized labor market.

Date: 2018
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