Document Type


Publication Date

Winter 1998


We examine the effect of unions on the earnings of health care workers, with emphasis on the measurement and sources of union wage premiums. Using data constructed from the 1973 though 1994 Current Population Surveys, standard union premium estimates are found to be substantially lower among workers in health care than in other sectors of the economy, and to be smaller among higher skill than among lower skill occupational groups. Longitudinal analysis of workers switching union status, which controls for worker-specific skills, indicates a small impact of unions on earnings within both high and low skilled health care occupations. Evidence is found for small, but significant, union threat effects in health care labor markets. It has been argued that recent legal changes in bargaining unit determination should enhance union organizing and bargaining power. Although we cannot rule this out, such effects are not readily apparent in our data.




George Mason University


Fairfax, VA

Publication Information

Journal of Labor Research