June 2014

IZA DP No. 8240: Impacts of Unionization on Quality and Productivity: Regression Discontinuity Evidence from Nursing Homes

published in: Industrial and Labor Relations Review, 2015, 68 (4), 771 - 806 https://doi.org/10.1177/0019793915586380

This paper studies the effects of nursing home unionization on numerous labor, establishment, and consumer outcomes using a regression discontinuity design. We find negative effects of unionization on staffing levels and no decline in care quality, suggesting positive labor productivity effects. Some evidence suggests that nursing homes in less competitive local product markets and those with lower union density at the time of election experienced stronger union employment effects. Unionization appears to raise wages for a given worker while also shifting the composition of the workforce away from higher-earning workers. By combining credible identification of union effects, a comprehensive set of outcomes over time with measures of market-level characteristics, this study generates some of the best evidence available on many controversial questions in the economics of unions. Furthermore, it generates evidence from the service sector, which has grown in importance and where evidence has been thin.