June 2004

IZA DP No. 1188: The Effect of Worker Representation on Employment Behavior in Germany: Another Case of -2.5%

published in: Industrial Relations, 2006, 45 (1), 1-25

Despite recent changes in the relationship between unionism and various indicators of firm performance, there is one seeming constant in the Anglophone countries: unions at the workplace are associated with reduced employment growth of around -2.5% a year. Using German data, we examine the impact of the works council – that country’s form of workplace representation – on employment change, 1993-2001. Works council plants have 2 to 3 percent lower employment growth having controlled for wages, changes in demand, industry affiliation, various worker and establishment characteristics, and survival bias. That said, works councils do not seem to further slow the tortuous pace of employment adjustment in Germany.