Union membership in Ireland since 2003

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Title: Union membership in Ireland since 2003
Authors: Walsh, Frank
Permanent link: http://hdl.handle.net/10197/7622
Date: 19-Feb-2015
Abstract: Using data from the Quarterly National Household Survey supplemented with some data from the European Social Survey we document a steady decline in union density in Ireland since 2003. While the great recession appeared to halt the decline this was temporary and density has continued to decline, indeed when changes in composition of worker and job attributes are accounted for there is a steady decline throughout the period. The analysis suggests that changes in the composition of job and worker characteristics during the deep recession between 2008 and 2011 served to offset the underlying decline in density. We also look respectively at the contributions of flows of workers into and out of union/non-union employment to the change in density. While the bulk of transitions into and out of union employment are associated with job changes, in fact the inflows and outflows cancel out for this category. The bulk of the change in membership came from changes in the net flow of workers who stayed in the same job into and out of union employment. We show that union members were much less likely to exit employment throughout the period compared to non-members. We present suggestive evidence from the European Social Survey that there is a substantial free rider effect associated with working in establishments where unions have influence without being a member. The paper concludes with a brief discussion of the possible implications of declining membership for labour market outcomes.
Type of material: Journal Article
Publisher: The Statistical and Social Inquiry Statistical Society of Ireland
Keywords: Trade union membership;Ireland
Language: en
Status of Item: Not peer reviewed
Appears in Collections:Economics Research Collection

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