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Union membership and the erosion of the Ghent system: Lessons from Finland

By Petri Böckerman and Roope Uusitalo

Abstract

Union density declined in Finland by more than 10 percentage points in less than ten years. This paper analyses the reasons behind the decline, using micro data from the 1990s. According to our results, the changes in the composition of the labour force and the changes in the labour market explain about a quarter of this decline. The main reason for the decline appears to be the erosion of the Ghent system, due to the emergence of an independent UI fund that provides unemployment insurance without requiring union membership. Interestingly, we find evidence that the decline in the union density can be attributed to declining inclination of the cohorts born after the early 1960s to become union members.Ghent system, union membership, trade unions

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