Malleable Minds? Unraveling the Causal Effect of Union Membership on Job and Political Attitudes

Thursday, 2 July 2015: 10:15 AM-11:45 AM
TW1.3.04 (Tower One)
Sinisa Hadziabdic, University of Geneva, Meyrin, Switzerland
This paper focuses on the effect of union membership on various dimensions of two sets of attitudes: job and political attitudes. Using the data of the Swiss Household Panel between 1999 and 2009, it contributes to clarify the causal impact of union membership on job and political attitudes from three points of view. First, by exploiting the advantages of panel data and by using an instrumental variables estimator, it explicitly tackles the problem of the endogenous nature of the union membership variable. In fact, understanding whether the attitudinal differences observed between union members and not members are the outcome of a causal impact of union membership or simply the result of a selection effect is one of the main issues the existent literature on the subject is concerned with. Preliminary results indicate that union membership has a positive significant effect on all dimensions of job satisfaction while it doesn't have a significant impact on political attitudes. Second, the paper goes one step further by showing that the impact of union membership on attitudes is far from being uniform. The results reveal that the effect varies significantly across the economic sectors in which the unions are active. They also show that the direction and the size of the impact of union membership depend on the profile of the individuals concerned. In particular, some individuals are shown to be much less malleable to the attitudinal change than others. Finally, by taking into account the dynamics characterizing union membership, the paper gives some insights into the causal mechanisms leading to the attitudinal change.