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May 17, 2012



Actually, I did say something similar, but in a different post:



In a lot of workplaces - it came up in legal issues around local council pay - male dominated unions were not enthusiastic about women getting equal pay, because they knew in effect it would be partly high pay for the women and partly lower pay for them.

Hence they also excluded a lot of women from unionisation over the years.

As ye sow, so shall ye reap...


It could be because unions where a bit, well..... shit?

Account Deleted

The paper begs the question (hypothesis 1, page 9) by assuming that the inverse correlation between union density and gender diversity is the result of "institutional sexism" within unions, but offers no actual evidence for this. There are other possible explanations, notably that socio-economic factors may cause women to gravitate towards non-unionised jobs.

The broad correlation between union membership and female workforce participation does not support the hypothesis. If it did, you would expect membership to steadily decline as females joined the workforce. Union membership grew from 9.5m in 1951 to peak at 13.2m in 1979. Over the same period, economically active women grew from 6.3m to 8.9m.

There is no single cause for the decline in union membership, but I'd suggest that legislation since 1979 has probably had more impact than sexism.

The wider point about income equality does look sound. Increased female participation has served to prop up family incomes as median male earnings have stagnated relative to GDP growth.

Miguel Madeira

«It finds "a negative and statistically significant link between workplace union density and gender diversity"»

This was controlled for sector of activity? My impression is that blue-collar workplaces are usually more all-male (ex. mining) or all-female (ex. textile factories) than white-collar workplaces; perhaps what we have is simply more unionization in blue-collar workplaces?

Turbulence Ahead

Chris - you're trying very hard to avoid stating the obvious:

1. unions succeed/succeeded to the extent that they have/had a 'monopoly' over the supply of labour (true mainly of the public sector nowadays)

2. women's mass entry into the workforce in the 70s/80s/90s increased the supply of labour (analogous to entry of Eastern European countries into EU), driving down wages through competition.

3. unions lose control of supply of labour, wages fall for the non-unionised (mainly private) sector.

4. unions stop demanding a 'family wage' and begin demanding a 'fair wage' - latter much lower than the former.

4. Score 1-0 for the bosses...

Same story in the USA where they're now fretting about 'The Great Stagnation' that, coincidently, began with the mass entry of women into the workforce.

There's no going back, but maybe there's no going forward either?


Another way in which women's labour force participation has probably increased inequality is through assortative mating and the rise of power couples who each bring in a high income.

Miguel Madeira

"Another way in which women's labour force participation has probably increased inequality is through assortative mating and the rise of power couples who each bring in a high income."

I heard these theory several times, but I think that this have a weak point - if the income of a upper-class doubles because the woman works, and the income of a lowe-clas family also doubles by the same reason, inequality does not rise, it remains the same (at least, if measured by indexes like Gini).

More women's labour force participation only could have created more inequality if:

a) Before "women's lib" there was a lower rate of female work in the upper-classes


b) Today is a higher rate of female work in the upper-classes


c) if the difference between the average male and female wages are bigger in lower class than in upper class

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