Journal of Economic Perspectives: Vol. 2 No. 2 (Spring 1988)
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The Rise and Fall of Unions: The Public Sector and the Private
Reder, Melvin W. 1988. "The Rise and Fall of Unions: The Public Sector and the Private." Journal of Economic Perspectives, 2(2): 89-110.
This paper has a single purpose: to explain why unionism (interpreted as percentage of union adherents among eligible employees) has been declining in the private sector for the past 30 to 35 years, but, for most of this period, has been increasing in the public sector. To provide this explanation, I offer an ad hoc theory. For the private sector, the paper tries to account for differences in the trends of union adherence during five "epochs": before 1917; 1917 to 1920; 1920 to 1933; 1933 to the early 1950s; and since the early 1950s. In the public sector, two epochs are distinguished: before and after 1960. Finally, I distinguish between the public and private sectors since 1960.
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831: Trade Unions
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