Union wage effects in Australia in a period of declining union power: The role of endowments and returns to endowments

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Daehoon Nahm https://orcid.org/0000-0003-0147-6425
Michael Dobbie https://orcid.org/0000-0003-4226-8745
Craig MacMillan https://orcid.org/0000-0001-9692-5929


Union wage effects, unobserved heterogeneity, counterfactual decomposition, panel data, HILDA


This study explores the union-non-union wage differentials in Australia, using a quantile regression model and simulation-based counterfactual decomposition. We find that wages for unionists are higher, and more equally distributed, compared to non-unionists. The decomposition analysis reveals that the main reason for a positive union-non-union wage differential is the possession of better labour market endowments by unionists compared with non-unionists. We find that union wages are more equally distributed because endowments of key employment characteristics are more homogenously distributed among unionists. A corollary of this is that differences in the returns to endowments, the ‘pure’ union-non-union wage differentials, are estimated to be small, approximately 0 to 4 per cent for males and 0 to 2 per cent for females.

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