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What explains the increase in trade union density and female share of union members in the United Kingdom in 2017-2020?

Harris, Richard; Moffat, John

What explains the increase in trade union density and female share of union members in the United Kingdom in 2017-2020? Thumbnail


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Abstract

Trade union density increased for three consecutive years in the United Kingdom between 2017 and 2020. This contrasts with a general decline in union membership since 1979. Since union density continued to fall amongst male employees in 2017–2020, the overall increase was entirely attributable to females. This paper explores the factors which explain why there was an increase in overall union density after a period of decline (for males and females) and why union density evolved so differently for males and females. Using decomposition methodologies, we find that the increase in union density in 2017–2020 was not due to a higher propensity to unionise within particular groups or across all employees. Instead, the principal driver of the overall rise in 2017–2020 was an increase in the proportion of employment in certain public sector organisations. The largest contributor to the difference across males and females was increases in the share of employment in more unionised occupations amongst female employees and decreases amongst male employees.

Citation

Harris, R., & Moffat, J. (2023). What explains the increase in trade union density and female share of union members in the United Kingdom in 2017-2020?. Journal of Industrial Relations, 65(3), https://doi.org/10.1177/00221856231157107

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Jan 28, 2023
Online Publication Date Mar 6, 2023
Publication Date 2023
Deposit Date Jan 30, 2023
Publicly Available Date Jan 31, 2023
Journal Journal of Industrial Relations
Print ISSN 0022-1856
Electronic ISSN 1472-9296
Publisher SAGE Publications
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 65
Issue 3
DOI https://doi.org/10.1177/00221856231157107
Public URL https://durham-repository.worktribe.com/output/1181761

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