Economic impacts of new unionization on private sector employers: 1984-2001

John Dinardo, S. Lee David

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

219 Scopus citations


Economic impacts of unionization on employers are difficult to estimate in the absence of large, representative data on establishments with union status information. Estimates are also confounded by selection bias, because unions could organize at highly profitable enterprises that are more likely to grow and pay higher wages. Using multiple establishment-level data sets that represent establishments that faced organizing drives in the United States during 1984-1999, this paper uses a regression discontinuity design to estimate the impact of unionization on business survival, employment, output, productivity, and wages. Essentially, outcomes for employers where unions barely won the election (e.g., by one vote) are compared with those where the unions barely lost. The analysis finds small impacts on all outcomes that we examine; estimates for wages are close to zero. The evidence suggests that - at least in recent decades - the legal mandate that requires the employer to bargain with a certified union has had little economic impact on employers, because unions have been somewhat unsuccessful at securing significant wage gains.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1383-1441
Number of pages59
JournalQuarterly Journal of Economics
Issue number4
StatePublished - Nov 2004
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Economics and Econometrics


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