Unions and the economic basis of attitudes

Publication type

Journal Article


Publication date

July 15, 2016


Unions make differences to employee satisfaction that correspond to their effects on individual economic advantage. Panel data reveal how changes in economic circumstance and changes in job satisfaction are linked to changes in union coverage. When individuals move into a union covered job they receive a wage mark-up and express enhanced pay satisfaction. Conversely, those moving from a union covered job on average lose any mark-up and have significantly reduced satisfaction. Similar findings emerge for working hours. On average individuals prefer shorter hours, something they tend (not) to achieve on moving (out of) into a unionised job, resulting in higher (lower) satisfaction. Switching into union coverage lowers satisfaction with job security, even though coverage has no effect on the risk of unemployment. This is because covered employees suffer greater costs of re-employment for a given level of unemployment risk, partly because of loss of the union mark-up.

Published in

Industrial Relations Journal

Volume and page numbers

Volume: 47 , p.360 -378








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