February 2003

IZA DP No. 724: The Impact of Deunionisation on Earnings Dispersion Revisited

published in: Research in Labor Economics, 2007, 26, 337-363

This paper examines the effects of union decline in Britain on changes in earnings dispersion between 1983 and 1995. As part and parcel of the exercise, the effects of changes in the wage gap and the variance gap are also calculated. Detailed findings are provided by gender and broad sector, allowing for worker characteristics and the skill gradient. Deunionisation is shown to account for surprisingly little of the increase in earnings dispersion in the private sector for either males or females. Although union decline has been more muted in the public sector, union effects are actually stronger here. In the public sector, unions no longer reduce earnings variation as much they once did by virtue of their growing tendency to organise more skilled groups.