Bargaining for the American Dream

346497_origThe following article was written by Richard Freeman, Eunice Han, David Madland and Brendan Duke for the Center for American Progress and was posted on September 9, 2015:

What Unions do for Mobility

Upward mobility and opportunity are the definition of the American dream. But today, the nation has less mobility and fewer opportunities when compared to other advanced economies. Research by economists Raj Chetty of Stanford University, Nathaniel Hendren of Harvard University and Patrick Kline and Emmanuel Saez of the University of California, Berkeley, show that five factors have the strongest geographical relationship—positive or negative—with mobility: single motherhood rates, income inequality, high school dropout rates, social capital, and segregation. This report examines the relationship between mobility and another variable that Chetty and his co-authors did not consider: union membership.

Based on the research for this report, it is clear that there is a strong relationship between union membership and intergenerational mobility. More specifically: Areas with higher union membership demonstrate more mobility for low-income children. Furthermore, the relationship is at least as strong as the relationship between mobility and high school dropout rates—a factor that is generally recognized as one of the most important correlates of economic mobility.

Learn more about what unions do for economic mobility.

Watch the event featuring Richard Freeman, Lawrence H. Summers, David Madland, and Neera Tanden.

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