Table 7

Effect of collective bargaining decline on male wage differentials, 1978–2011

 1978  1989 2000  2011
Percent of workers covered by collective bargaining
By occupation
White collar 14.7% 12.1% 11.2% 10.3%
Blue collar 43.1% 28.9% 23.1% 17.8%
Difference -28.4 -16.7 -11.9 -7.5
By education
College 14.3% 11.9% 13.1% 12.1%
High school 37.9% 25.5% 20.4% 14.9%
Difference -23.6 -13.6 -7.4 -2.9
Collective bargaining wage effect*
By occupation
White collar 0.2% 0.0% -0.2% -0.2%
Blue collar 11.5% 6.7% 4.3% 3.5%
Difference (change in differential) -11.3 -6.8 -4.5 -3.6
By education
College 0.9% 0.5% 0.9% 0.6%
High school 8.2% 5.5% 3.1% 2.6%
Difference (change in differential) -7.3 -5.0 -2.3 -2.0
1978–1989 1989–2000 2000–2011 1978–2011
Change in wage differential**
White-collar/blue-collar 5.0 4.2 0.9 10.1
College/high school 13.0 8.0 2.8 23.9
Change in collective bargaining wage effect
White-collar/blue-collar -4.6 -2.3 -0.9 -7.7
College/high school -2.3 -2.5 -0.3 -5.1
Decline in collective bargaining advantage contribution to change in wage differential***
White-collar/blue-collar -90.5% -55.2% -91.8% -76.1%
College/high school -17.8 -30.7 -10.2 -21.2

* Collective bargaining effect is the "collective bargaining advantage" (estimated with simple human capital model plus industry and occupational controls) times collective bargaining coverage; negative values in the difference row show how much collective bargaining narrowed the wage gaps between white- and blue-collar workers and college- and high-school-educated workers.
** Log wage gaps estimated with a simple human capital model
*** Change in collective bargaining wage effect on wage differential divided by overall change in differential

Table 7. Effect of collective bargaining decline on male wage differentials, 1978–2011. This analysis replicates, updates, and expands on Freeman (1991), Table 2. The year 1978, rather than 1979, is the earliest year analyzed because we have no collective bargaining coverage data in our 1979 sample. “Percent of workers covered by collective bargaining” is the share of workers covered by a collective bargaining agreement. The “collective bargaining advantage” for a group is based on the coefficient on collective bargaining coverage in a regression of hourly wages on a simple human capital model, with major industry (12) and occupation (9) controls in a sample for that group. The change in collective bargaining advantage across years, therefore, holds industry and occupation composition constant. Freeman’s analysis assumed the collective bargaining advantage was unchanged over time. We allow the collective bargaining advantage to differ across years so changes in the “collective bargaining effect” on wages (the collective bargaining wage advantage times collective bargaining coverage) are driven by changes in collective bargaining coverage and the collective bargaining wage advantage. The analysis divides the percentage-point change in the collective bargaining effect on wage differentials by the actual percentage-point change in wage differentials (regression-adjusted with simple human capital controls plus controls for other education or occupation groups) to determine the “Decline in collective bargaining advantage contribution to change in wage differential” among men, which, as a negative percent, indicates contribution to the growth of the wage gaps. See Chapter 4 of The State of Working America, 12th Edition (Mishel et al. 2012).

Source: Author's update of Freeman (1991) using Current Population Survey Outgoing Rotation Group microdata

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