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Workers of the world unite (or not?) The effect of ethnic diversity on the participation in trade unions

Benos, Nikos and Kammas, Pantelis (2018): Workers of the world unite (or not?) The effect of ethnic diversity on the participation in trade unions.

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This paper advances the hypothesis that workers participate less in trade unions in more ethnically fragmented societies. This hypothesis dates back at least to Marx and Engels who first suggested that increased ethnic and racial antipathies among workers undermine class consciousness and weaken the unity of the working class in the United States. Building on a set of innovative instruments derived from biogeography and more precisely the parasite-stress theory of values and sociality (Fincher and Thornhill, 2008), our analysis seeks to exploit exogenous sources of variations in ethnic diversity and establish a convincing relationship between ethnic diversity and trade union density across countries. In turn, our analysis investigates the above mentioned relationship by using the European Social Survey (ESS) dataset and in particular a sample of migrants of different ancestry residing in ESS countries. Consistent with the prediction of the theory, both layers of the empirical analysis provide evidence of a strong, negative and highly significant relationship between ethnic diversity and the decision of the workers to participate in trade unions. Obtained empirical findings remain highly robust across a number of alternative empirical specifications and estimation techniques.

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