Journal of Population Economics

, Volume 20, Issue 4, pp 833–867 | Cite as

Labor market institutions and demographic employment patterns

  • Giuseppe Bertola
  • Francine D. Blau
  • Lawrence M. Kahn


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 



This paper benefits from helpful comments by Richard Disney, Christian Dustmann, Richard Freeman, Harry Holzer, Steve Machin, Justin Wolfers, three anonymous referees, and seminar participants at Cornell University, University of Texas, University of Turin, Juan March Institute (Madrid), and conference participants at the AEA/IRRA meetings, Regensburg, Bergen, and Bonn. We are also grateful to Justin Wolfers and David Neumark for providing data, and to Julian Messina, Abhijay Prakash, and Thomas Steinberger for the excellent research assistance. Portions of this paper were written while the second and third authors were Visiting Fellows in the Economics Department at Princeton University, supported by the Industrial Relations Section. They are grateful for this support. The corresponding author is Lawrence M. Kahn.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Giuseppe Bertola
    • 1
  • Francine D. Blau
    • 2
  • Lawrence M. Kahn
    • 3
  1. 1.Università di TorinoTurinItaly
  2. 2.Cornell UniversityIthacaUSA
  3. 3.Cornell UniversityIthacaUSA

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