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Union Membership Peaks in Midlife

Blanchflower, DG; Bryson, A; (2021) Union Membership Peaks in Midlife. British Journal of Industrial Relations 10.1111/bjir.12606. (In press).

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Abstract

Using data from 68 countries on over eight million respondents over 40 years we show union membership peaks in midlife — usually around workers’ late 40s or early 50s. In doing so we extend Blanchflower's earlier study, incorporating a further 39 countries and another decade or so of data. We show the age peak in union membership is apparent across birth cohorts, and that the introduction of cohort dummies makes little difference to the age at which membership peaks. In Europe we show the peak coincides with the age point at which exit rates from union membership rise. We show that, among those aged 50 and over, retirement rates are higher among ex-members than among those who have never been union members, suggesting the increased prevalence of non-membership among workers later in life is due to union members retiring earlier, as one might expect given their pension entitlements. The age at which union membership peaks increases only very slightly over time in the United States but rises markedly in the United Kingdom. Since unions are democratic organizations, the implication is that unions in the United Kingdom may shift what they do to maximize the utility of an ageing membership.

Type: Article
Title: Union Membership Peaks in Midlife
DOI: 10.1111/bjir.12606
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1111/bjir.12606
Language: English
Additional information: This version is the author accepted manuscript. For information on re-use, please refer to the publisher’s terms and conditions.
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education > UCL Institute of Education
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education > UCL Institute of Education > IOE - Social Research Institute
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10124479
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