Richard B. Freeman and James L. Medoff’s now classic 1984 book What Do Unions Do? stimulated an enormous theoretical and empirical literature on the economicimpact of trade unions. Trade unions continue to be a significant feature of many labormarkets, particularly in developing countries, and issues of labor market regulationsand labor institutions remain critically important to researchers and policy makers.
The relations between unions and management can range between cooperation and conflict; unions have powerful offsetting wage and non-wage effects that economists and other social scientists have long debated. Do the benefits of unionism exceed the costs to the economy and society writ large, or do the costs exceed the benefits? TheEconomics of Trade Unions offers the first comprehensive review, analysis and evaluation of the empirical literature on the microeconomic effects of trade unions using the tools of meta-regression analysis to identify and quantify the economic impact of trade unions, as well as to correct research design faults, the effects of selection bias and model misspecification.
This volume makes use of a unique dataset of hundreds of empirical studies and their reported estimates of the microeconomic impact of trade unions. Written by three authors who have been at the forefront of this research field (including the co-author of the original volume, What Do Unions Do?), this book offers an overview of a subject that is of huge importance to scholars of labor economics, industrial and employee relations, and human resource management, as well as those with an interest in meta-analysis.
This paper finds that U.S. employment changed differently relative to output in the Great Recession and recovery than in most other advanced countries or in the United States in earlier recessions. Instead of hoarding labor, U.S. firms reduced employment proportionately more than output in the Great Recession, with establishments that survived the downturn contracting jobs massively. Diverging from the aggregate pattern, U.S. manufacturers reduced employment less than output while the elasticity of employment to gross output varied widely among establishments. In the recovery, growth of employment was dominated by job creation in new establishments. The variegated responses of employment to output challenges extant models of how enterprises adjust employment over the business cycle.
We show that worker wellbeing is determined not only by the amount of compensation workers receive but also by how compensation is determined. While previous theoretical and empirical work has often been preoccupied with individual performance-related pay, we find that the receipt of a range of group-performance schemes (profit shares, group bonuses and share ownership) is associated with higher job satisfaction. This holds conditional on wage levels, so that pay methods are associated with greater job satisfaction in addition to that coming from higher wages. We use a variety of methods to control for unobserved individual and job-specific characteristics. We suggest that half of the share-capitalism effect is accounted for by employees reciprocating for the “gift”; we also show that share capitalism helps dampen the negative wellbeing effects of what we typically think of as “bad” aspects of job quality.
Natural ventilation (NV) is a key sustainable solution for reducing the energy use in buildings, improving thermal comfort, and maintaining a healthy indoor environment. However, the energy savings and environmental benefits are affected greatly by ambient air pollution in China. Here we estimate the NV potential of all major Chinese cities based on weather, ambient air quality, building configuration, and newly constructed square footage of office buildings in the year of 2015. In general, little NV potential is observed in northern China during the winter and southern China during the summer. Kunming located in the Southwest China is the most weather-favorable city for natural ventilation, and reveals almost zero loss due to air pollution. Building Energy Simulation (BES) is conducted to estimate the energy savings of natural ventilation in which ambient air pollution and total square footage must be taken into account. Beijing, the capital city, displays limited per-square-meter saving potential due to the unfavorable weather and air quality for natural ventilation, but its largest total square footage of office buildings makes it become the city with the greatest energy saving opportunity in China. Our analysis shows that the aggregated energy savings potential of office buildings at 35 major Chinese cities is 112 GWh in 2015, even after allowing for a 43 GWh loss due to China’s serious air pollution issue especially in North China. 8–78% of the cooling energy consumption can be potentially reduced by natural ventilation depending on local weather and air quality. The findings here provide guidelines for improving current energy and environmental policies in China, and a direction for reforming building codes.
This paper analyzes the linkages among group incentive methods of compensation (broad-based employee ownership, profit sharing, and stock options), labor practices, worker assessments of workplace culture, turnover, and firm performance in firms that applied to the “100 Best Companies to Work For in America” competition from 2005 to 2007. Although employers with good labor practices self-select into the 100 Best Companies firms sample, which should bias the analysis against finding strong associations among modes of compensation, labor policies, and outcomes, we find that employees in the firms that use group incentive pay more extensively participate more in decisions, have greater information sharing, trust supervisors more, and report a more positive workplace culture than in other companies. The combination of group incentive pay with policies that empower employees and create a positive workplace culture reduces voluntary turnover and increases employee intent to stay and raises return on equity. Word count:
This paper analyzes the role of establishments in the upward trend in dispersion of earnings that has become a central topic in economic analysis and policy debate. It decomposes changes in the variance of log earnings among individuals into the part due to changes in earnings among establishments and the part due to changes in earnings within establishments. The main finding is that much of the 1970s–2010s increase in earnings inequality results from increased dispersion of the earnings among the establishments where individuals work. Our results direct attention to the role of establishment-level pay setting and economic adjustments in earnings inequality.
By examining the ethnic identity of authors in over 2.5 million scientific papers written by US-based authors from 1985 to 2008, we find that persons of similar ethnicity coauthor together more frequently than predicted by their proportion among authors. The greater homophily is associated with publication in lower-impact journals and with fewer citations. Meanwhile, papers with authors in more locations and with longer reference lists get published in higher-impact journals and receive more citations. These findings suggest that diversity in inputs by author ethnicity, location, and references leads to greater contributions to science as measured by impact factors and citations.
This paper examines unionism’s relationship to the size of the middle class and its relationship to intergenerational mobility. We use the PSID 1985 and 2011 files to examine the change in the share of workers in a middle-income group (defined by persons having incomes within 50% of the median) and use a shift-share decomposition to explore how the decline of unionism contributes to the shrinking middle class. We also use the files to investigate the correlation between parents’ union status and the incomes of their children. Additionally, we use federal income tax data to examine the geographical correlation between union density and intergenerational mobility. We find: 1) union workers are disproportionately in the middle-income group or above, and some reach middle-income status due to the union wage premium; 2) the offspring of union parents have higher incomes than the offspring of otherwise comparable non-union parents, especially when the parents are low-skilled; 3) offspring from communities with higher union density have higher average incomes relative to their parents compared to offspring from communities with lower union density. These findings show a strong, though not necessarily causal, link between unions, the middle class, and intergenerational mobility.
China’s new Labor Contract Law took effect on January 2008 and required firms to give migrant workers written contracts, strengthened labor protections for workers and contained penalties for firms that did not follow the labor code. This paper uses survey data of migrant workers in the Pearl River Delta before and after the law and a retrospective question on when workers received their first labor contract to assess the effects of the law on labor outcomes. The evidence shows that the new law increased the percentage of migrant workers with written contracts, which in turn raised social insurance coverage, reduced the likelihood of wage arrears, and raised the likelihood that the worker had a union at their workplace.
Globalization of scientific and technological knowledge has reduced the US share of world scientific activity; increased the foreign-born proportion of scientists and engineers in US universities and in the US labor market; and led to greater US scientific collaborations with other countries. China's massive investments in university education and R&D has in particular made it a special partner for the US in scientific work. These developments have substantial implications for US science and technology policy. This paper suggests that aligning immigration policies more closely to the influx of international students; granting fellowships to students working on turning scientific and technological into commercial innovations; and requiring firms with R&D tax credits or other government R&D funding develop “impact plans” to use their new knowledge to produce innovative products or processes in the US could help the country adjust to the changing global world of science and technology.