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The union wage premium in the US and the UK

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This paper presents evidence of both counter-cyclical and secular decline in the union membership wage premiu m in the US and the UK over the last couple of decades. The premium has fallen for most groups of workers, the main exception being public sector workers in the US. By the beginning of the 21st Century the premium remained substantial in the US but there was no premium for many workers in the UK. Industry, state and occupation-level analyses for the US identify upward as well as downward movement in the premium characterized by regression to the mean. Using linked employer-employee data for Britain we show estimates of the membership premium tend to be upwardly biased where rich employer data are absent and that OLS estimates are higher than those obtained with propensity score matching.

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