Where There Are Unions, There Is Less Inequality

I highly recommend you spend some time checking out the website for The State of Working America, the annual checkup on the health of the middle class produced by the Economic Policy Institute. 

One of the interesting graphics researchers put together for this year's edition was a scatter plot of union coverage and inequality in advanced economies.

Unions compress the wage distribution and, thus, reduce inequality. As a result, the more people who are covered by unions in an economy, the less inequality that economy has.

This doesn't mean everybody earns the same wages; it just means the distance between the very rich and the rest of us is a little narrower. You will also note that the U.S., with the least amount of union coverage, has the highest level of inequality.

Don't forget, the U.S. didn't always have such startling inequality. The following figure plots union membership and the share of income captured by the top 10% between 1917 and 2008. When unions were stronger in the U.S., more of the wealth generated by our economy flowed to the middle class.

Comments

0 comments posted

Post new comment

Comment Policy:

Thank you for joining the conversation. Comments are limited to 1,500 characters and are subject to approval and moderation. We reserve the right to remove comments that:

  • are injurious, defamatory, profane, off-topic or inappropriate;
  • contain personal attacks or racist, sexist, homophobic, or other slurs;
  • solicit and/or advertise for personal blogs and websites or to sell products or services;
  • may infringe the copyright or intellectual property rights of others or other applicable laws or regulations; or
  • are otherwise inconsistent with the goals of this blog.

Posted comments do not necessarily represent the views of the Keystone Research Center or Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center and do not constitute official endorsement by either organization. Please note that comments will be approved during the Keystone Research Center's business hours.

If you have questions, please contact [email protected]

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Allowed HTML tags: <a> <em> <strong> <cite> <code> <ul> <ol> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd> <p> <img>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.