What Difference Do Unions Make?: Their Impact on Productivity and Wages in Latin America

Jan 2005
Márquez, Gustavo;Kuhn, Peter
The subject of labor unions in Latin America provokes a variety of diverse and strongly held views. While some see unions as a way to protect workers' rights and ensure an equitable distribution of income, others see unions as a drain of productivity or an intrusion of politics into the workplace. In spite of these strong opinions, the effects of unions in Latin America have received little empirical attention. This book represents one of the first attempts to obtain evidence on union effects in the region. Following an examination of union density across countries, the studies in this volume evaluate the impact of unions on private-sector firm performance, agricultural productivity, and educational outcomes in public school systems. Unions' effects are considered in detail for Argentina, Brazil, Peru and Uruguay, as well as the less-studied case of Guatemala. Some of the findings are surprising and may help provide a basis for policies that better address the concerns of workers, employers and the public at large.