Baker Scholar Projects


A Union Mitigation Effect on the Gender Wage Gap: Do “Right-to-Work” Laws Provide Evidence?

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A prominent phenomenon of income inequality, the gender wage gap presents anenduring problem for the pursuit of female economic empowerment as it devalues female laborand consequently reduces economic output. Ultimately dealing with an issue of raising femaleearnings, unionization is a tried and proven method for increasing worker wages and benefits rowhere it may contribute some mitigating effects towards the gap. This study attempts to quantifysuch an association by examining states which have enacted right-to-work laws (legislationknown to reduce unionization) compared to states without, indicating what changes in wages area result of changes in unionization. The model was applied to three different samples four times.Each of the four instances concerned one of the following groups: female union members, maleunion members, females without union membership, and males without union membership.Among all industries, subtle increases in wages for both men and women without unionmembership and union men were found. Unionized industries yielded wage increases for allmales, regardless of membership, and a wage decrease for union women. Individual industriesdisplayed some negative or no wage changes for union members and increases for those withoutmembership. Ultimately, the link between decreased unionization and a stagnating gender wagegap was not so apparent. Right-to-work laws were found to contribute to the gap, but due to theresponse of a union male wage increase to right-to-work laws, it is unlikely such drops occurredfrom lowering unionization.

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