Journal of Population Economics

, Volume 20, Issue 4, pp 833-867

First online:

Labor market institutions and demographic employment patterns

  • Giuseppe BertolaAffiliated withUniversità di Torino
  • , Francine D. BlauAffiliated withCornell University
  • , Lawrence M. KahnAffiliated withCornell University Email author 

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We study collective bargaining’s effect on relative employment for youth, women, and older individuals. Our model of collective wage setting predicts that unionization reduces employment more for groups with relatively elastic labor supply: youth, older individuals, and women. We test this implication using data from 17 Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) countries over the 1960–1996 period. We find that time-varying indicators of unionization decrease the employment–population ratio of young and older individuals relative to the prime-aged, and of prime-aged women relative to prime-aged men, and unionization raises the unemployment rate of prime-aged women and, possibly, young men compared to prime-aged men.


Unions Demographic employment differentials

JEL Classification

J21 J23 J51