Skip to main content
×
Home

Learning to Love the Government: Trade Unions and late Adoption of the Minimum Wage

Abstract

One counterintuitive variation in wage-setting regulation is that countries with the highest labor standards and strongest labor movements are among the least likely to set a statutory minimum wage. This, the author argues, is due largely to trade union opposition. Trade unions oppose the minimum wage when they face minimal low-wage competition, which is affected by the political institutions regulating industrial action, collective agreements, and employment, as well as by the skill and wage levels of their members. When political institutions effectively regulate low-wage competition, unions oppose the minimum wage. When political institutions are less favorable toward unions, there may be a cleavage between high- and low-wage unions in their minimum wage preferences. The argument is illustrated with case studies of the UK, Germany, and Sweden. The author demonstrates how the regulation of low-wage competition affects unions’ minimum wage preferences by exploiting the following labor market institutional shocks: the Conservatives’ labor law reforms in the UK, the Hartz labor market reforms in Germany, and the European Court of Justice's Laval ruling in Sweden. The importance of union preferences for minimum wage adoption is also shown by how trade union confederation preferences influenced the position of the Labour Party in the UK and the Social Democratic Party in Germany.

Copyright
References
Hide All

* I thank Christopher Adolph, John Ahlquist, Alexandra Cirone, Anthony Daniels, Matthew Dimick, Anke Hassel, John Huber, Katherine Jackson, Alexander Kuo, Isabela Mares, Vicky Murillo, Mark Schneider, Dorian Warren, three anonymous reviewers, and the editors of World Politics for helpful written comments and discussion. I also thank participants at the 2014 Midwest Political Science Association Annual Meeting, seminar participants at the London School of Economics and Amherst College, and my colleagues at the 2013–4 Berlin Program for Advanced German and European Studies Colloquium for additional helpful feedback.

Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

World Politics
  • ISSN: 0043-8871
  • EISSN: 1086-3338
  • URL: /core/journals/world-politics
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *
×

Metrics

Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 222 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 677 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between September 2016 - 21st November 2017. This data will be updated every 24 hours.