English title: Union membership in Ireland since 2003

Author(s): Frank Walsh -

Language: English

Type: Journal article

Year: 2015


Using data from the Quarterly National Household Survey supplemented with some data from the European Social Survey we document a steady decline in union density in Ireland since 2003. While the great recession appeared to halt the decline this was temporary and density has continued to decline, indeed when changes in composition of worker and job attributes are accounted for there is a steady decline throughout the period. The analysis suggests that changes in the composition of job and worker characteristics during the deep recession between 2008 and 2011 served to offset the underlying decline in density. We also look respectively at the contributions of flows of workers into and out of union/non-union employment to the change in density. While the bulk of transitions into and out of union employment are associated with job changes, in fact the inflows and outflows cancel out for this category. The bulk of the change in membership came from changes in the net flow of workers who stayed in the same job into and out of union employment. We show that union members were much less likely to exit employment throughout the period compared to non-members. We present suggestive evidence from the European Social Survey that there is a substantial free rider effect associated with working in establishments where unions have influence without being a member. The paper concludes with a brief discussion of the possible implications of declining membership for labour market outcomes.

Volume: 44

Issue: 0

From page no: 86

To page no: 100

Refereed: Yes


Journal: Journal of the Statistical and Social Inquiry Society of Ireland

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