Why union density has declined

Wim Groot, Annette van den Berg

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In the Netherlands union density declined by a quarter between 1979 and 1987. In this paper we use two cross-sectional studies to analyze changes in individual decision making regarding union membership. By means of a decomposition analysis we determine to what extent changes in union membership can be attributed to changes in characteristics of the employed labor force and to what extent these changes are due to changes in behavior of the employed. The empirical findings show that approximately 60% of the decline is caused by changes in the population, while 40% is due to changes in unionization behavior. Our overall conclusion is that both arguments to explain the decline in union density have some validity, with the rising share of workers with a low propensity to join being slightly more important than the diminishing appeal of unions to workers. ?? 1994.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)749-763
Number of pages15
JournalEuropean Journal of Political Economy
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1994
Externally publishedYes


  • Growth accounting
  • Union density

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