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Seeking a Premier EconomyThe Economic Effects of British Economic Reforms, 1980-2000$
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David Card, Richard Blundell, and Richard B. Freeman

Print publication date: 2004

Print ISBN-13: 9780226092843

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: February 2013

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226092904.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM CHICAGO SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.chicago.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of Chicago Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in CHSO for personal use.date: 21 September 2021

The Surprising Retreat of Union Britain

The Surprising Retreat of Union Britain

Chapter:
(p.181) 5 The Surprising Retreat of Union Britain
Source:
Seeking a Premier Economy
Author(s):
John Pencavel
Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
DOI:10.7208/chicago/9780226092904.003.0006

Labor unions are an important component of a society's network of institutions that give individuals an opportunity to shape their environments and to promote mutual assistance. Collective bargaining can be a constructive force at the workplace to resolve problems that arise from the necessary incompleteness of labor contracts. An assessment of unionism in a society may be organized around three classes of questions: Do unions produce a better distribution of income in society? Do unions contribute to a more efficient society? And do unions enhance a society's “social capital”? This chapter examines the retreat of unionism in the United Kingdom, as illustrated by the drop in the fraction of workers who are union members. It describes the state of unionism in the 1960s and 1970s, arguing that, unlike in most other countries, British unionism was nurtured less by explicit statutory support and more by various indirect mechanisms. The chapter also discusses the impact of the change in economic policy on unionism, along with the government's posture toward labor strikes and the impact of unionism on labor productivity.

Keywords:   labor unions, United Kingdom, unionism, collective bargaining, labor strikes, labor productivity, economic policy, social capital

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