Report Study shows diminished but ‘robust’ link between union decline, rise of inequality

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    tom_mai78101 The Helper Connoisseur / Ex-MineCraft Host Staff Member

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    CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — Numerous studies have linked the decline of unions with the rise in wage inequality, but some prominent ones have come with questions.

    The questions arose because those studies relied on cross-sectional snapshots of the population, which could not follow individuals or their careers over time. That meant they could not account for how individual worker characteristics – things like talents, family background, schooling and intelligence – might explain some of the unionization-inequality connection.

    University of Illinois sociology professor Tom VanHeuvelen sought to address that issue in a new study that tracked individual workers over the period 1973-2015, using data from the country’s longest-running longitudinal survey on household income. The study was published online by the journal Social Forces.

    VanHeuvelen found that the magnitude of association between unionization and wage inequality in those previous studies is cut by about half once those worker characteristics are taken into account. What remains, however, is “remarkably robust,” he said.

    “I find that both the direct and indirect effects of union decline are just really robust as you track people along their careers. It means that if unions had stayed strong, it’s likely the typical wage attainment of people would have been higher, and it’s likely that wages would have been more predictable and less volatile.”

    Read more here. (University of Illinois)

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