Did globalization reduce unionization? Evidence from US manufacturing

Elisabetta Magnani, David Prentice*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)


How do globalized economic conditions affect labor market institutions such as unionism? We draw on recent theoretical and empirical work to explore a wider set of hypotheses regarding the decline in unionization. Using a comprehensive data set of US three-digit manufacturing industries from 1973 to 1994, we test the hypothesis that domestic and international competition directly reduces unionization. Using instrumental variable regressions, we demonstrate the relevance of product market competition variables for unionization. However, we are unable to account for the unionization decline over this period. This could reflect the lagged and complex effects of competition on unionization.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)705-726
Number of pages22
JournalLabour Economics
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2003
Externally publishedYes


  • Globalization
  • Manufacturing
  • Quasi-rents
  • Technological change
  • Unionization


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