demand for unions


We use a demand/supply framework to analyze 1) the decline in union
membership since 1977 in the United States and 2) the difference in
unionization rates between the United States and Canada. We extend earlier
work on these problems by analyzing new data for 1991 from the General Social
Survey and for 1992 from our own household survey on worker preferences for
union representation. When combined with earlier data for 1977 from the
Quality of Employment Survey and for 1984 from a survey conducted for the
AFl-CIO, we are able to decompose changes in unionization into changes in
demand and changes in supply. We also analyze data for 1990 from a survey
conducted for the Canadian Federation of Labor on the preferences of Canadian
workers for union representation.
We find that virtually all of the decline in union membership in the
United States between 1977 and 1991 is due to a decline in worker demand for
union representation. There was almost no change over this period in the
relative supply of union jobs. Additionally, very little of the decline in
unionization in the U.S. can be accounted for by structural shifts in the
composition of the labor force. Next, we find that all of the higher
unionization rate in the U.S. public sector in 1984 can be accounted for by
higher demand for unionization and that there is actually more frustrated
demand for union representation in the public sector. Finally, we
tentatively conclude that the difference in unionization rates between the
U.S. and Canada is accounted for roughly in equal measure by differences in
demand and in supply.

Year of Publication
Date Published
Publication Language
Citation Key
In Employee Representation: Alternatives and Future Directions, Bruce Kaufman and Morris Kleiner, editor s. Industrial Relations Research Association, 1993
Krueger, A., & Farber, H. (1992). Union Membership in the United States: The Decline Continues. Retrieved from (Original work published August 1992)
Working Papers