ICTWSS: Database on Institutional Characteristics of Trade Unions, Wage Setting, State Intervention and Social Pacts in 51 countries between 1960 and 2014

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Jelle Visser
Amsterdam Institute for Advanced Labour Studies (AIAS)
University of Amsterdam

Version 5 – November 2015

The new ICTWSS database (version 5.0) is out now, with updates for 2013/2014!

The current version 5.0 covers 51 countries, nearly 200 variables and 55 years (1960-2014). The biggest changes between version 5.0 of the database and the previous version 4.0, released in April 2013, are in the sections on wage setting and bargaining coverage This version of the database has new estimates on collective bargaining coverage rates in the private and public sector, adjusted for those employees whose conditions are set by government mandate, as well as on the division between enterprise and sector bargaining, and the extra-contractual coverage of workers through agreements that are extended to non-organized employers. In addition to the dominant level of bargaining, defined as the level at which most agreements apply, a new set of variables tries to capture the actual level of bargaining over wages and working hours through a new set of variables:

  • the frequency or scope of additional of enterprise bargaining in the market sector within the framework of sectoral or cross-sectoral agreements;
  • the articulation of multi-level bargaining;
  • the legal or contractual basis for derogation;
  • general opening clauses in sectoral agreements, and
  • crisis-related hardship clauses in agreements of any type.

Combining this information a new variable on the actual degree of centralisation of wage bargaining has been created.

Please cite the database as:
J. Visser, ICTWSS Data base. version 5.0. Amsterdam: Amsterdam Institute for Advanced Labour Studies AIAS. October 2015.
Open access database at: www.uva-aias.net/208

Click here for the codebook
Click here for the ICTWSS Database 5.0, November 2015

If you want to stay updated for updates or changes in the future, please fill out the form below:

Version 4 – April 2013

The new ICTWSS database (version 4.0) of Jelle Visser is now available with more countries, more variables and updated till 2012.

Click here for the codebook
Click here for the ICTWSS Database 4, April 2013

The ICTWSS database covers four key elements of modern political economies: trade unionism, wage setting, state intervention and social pacts. The database contains annual data for all OECD and EU member states – Australia; Austria; Belgium; Bulgaria; Canada; Chile, Cyprus, the Czech Republic; Denmark; Estonia; Germany; Greece; Finland; France; Hungary; Iceland; Ireland; Israel, Italy; Japan; Korea, Latvia; Lithuania; Luxembourg; Malta; Mexico; the Netherlands; New Zealand; Norway; Poland; Portugal; Romania; Spain; Slovakia; Slovenia; Sweden; Switzerland; Turkey; the United Kingdom; and the United States – with some additional data for emerging economies Brazil; China; India; Indonesia; Russia; and South Africa; and it runs from 1960 till 2011.

The part on social pacts was developed in the framework of the NEWGOV project, financed under the EU FP7 research framework, on “Distributive Politics, Learning and Reform: National Social Pacts”, directed by Sabina Avdagic, Martin Rhodes and myself (Avdagic et al 2011). Our database contains information on the negotiation and signing of pacts, the actor combinations involved, whether these were wage pacts or pacts dealing with other issues, whether they were broad or single-issue pacts. In addition the database contains entries on the existence of bipartite agreements between unions and employers, distinguishing between wage and non-wage agreements, and between autonomous agreements and agreements sponsored by the state or depending on legislation. Also covered is the existence of bipartite and tripartite councils or bodies for social economic policy making, advice and forecasting. All data are newly collected based on data from
the project and from various national sources and comparative studies, among which Pochet and Fajertag (2000) and Pochet, Keune and Natali (2010), the Industrial Relations in Europe reports of the European Commission (2000, 2002, 2004, 2006, 2008, 2010, and 2012) and publications of the European Social and Economic Committee, and the European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions, and its online European Industrial Relations Observatory (EIRO). See, for instance, Tóth and Neumann (2004) and the EIRO country profiles. The part on wage setting is focusing on features such as bargaining coverage, level and type (or mechanism) of coordination, predominant level of bargaining, articulation of 2 multi-level bargaining, the use of opening clauses in agreements, the average length of agreements, government intervention, types and grades of administrative extension of agreements, minimum wage setting, employer organization and union centralisation. The data is from various national and comparative sources, including Traxler (1994); OECD (2004); European Industrial Relations Online (EIRO, various years); the Global Wage Surveys of the ILO. See for measurement and methods also Lawrence and For coverage data use has been made from surveys for the US, Canada, New Zealand, the UK, Germany, the Netherlands, Israel and South Africa, as well as historical estimates from Ochel (2001); and Visser 2010 for Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, and South Africa. The variables and data on coordination, articulation, opening clauses, and extension have been added, or revised, in this version. They are discussed in a recent paper on “Wage Bargaining Institutions—-From Crisis to Crisis” (Visser 2013), which will be published online by the European Commission, DG Economic and Financial Affairs, in European Economy. Economic Papers, April 2013. On levels of bargaining, articulation and opening clauses, see also Arrowsmith and Marginson (2009), Broughton (2010), Schulten (2005), Schulten and Stueckler (2000), and Cultarelli et al (2012).

Traxler and Behrens (2002) provide the main source for administrative extension, with additional data from Blanpain (2004), and the EIRO database (see for details: Visser 2013). Kenworthy (2001) is the key source for the coordination of wage setting scores, with my own data for Central and Eastern Europe and recent years added (see may chapters in EC, 2004; 2009; 2011). There are a few subtle differences in the wage coordination scale used here and the one used by Kenworthy (see codebook, infra) and for some years and countries my scores and his differ. Since the Kenworthy scale allows ranking from high to low, I have preferred his approach to the coding in Traxler, Blaschke and Kittel (2001). However, their emphasis on the governability and enforcement of agreements is picked up in the data on union centralisation (or governance) and in a separate variable on the type or mechanism of wage bargaining coordination. The five-point scale measuring government intervention was developed by Hassel (2006) though I have though it necessary to make two important changes, one to allow a distinction between (a) non-intervention but supporting and facilitating broad sectoral unions and agreements (the case of, for instance, Germany); and (b) non-intervention
while creating or upholding a legal framework that favours fragmented and company unionism and bargaining (the case of, for instance, the UK). The other change is that the scale used here distinguishes between (a) interventions that impose by law a stop on free bargaining or a ceiling on its outcomes and (b) interventions by means of a social pact negotiated with the unions and employers for some quid pro quo. The data are from Hassel (2006), Golden and Lange (1996), Golden, Lange, and Wallerstein (2006), at http://www.shelley.polisci.ucla.edu/ (version dated June 16, 2006), and my own updates for Central and Eastern Europe, New Zealand and recent years. I have reduced the 15-points Golde-Lange-Walllerstein (2006) scale to my five-point scale based on a revision of Hassel, 2005 (see codebook, below). Addison (1981) and Armingeon (1982, 1994) provide additional data, covering earlier years, on state intervention and incomes policies.

Another key aspect of government intervention relates to minimum wage setting. Based on a study of the institutional aspects of minimum wage setting (does a mandatory exists in all or some parts of the economy; how do governments reach decisions; is there an index; what role do social partners play, etc.) I have made a distinction between whether or not a mandatory minimum wage exists for some or all of the economy; and how decisions regarding the minimum wage are actually made, with or without the involvement of unions and employers. The data are from the OECD, EIRO reports, Funk and Lesch (2005), the European Commission (Industrial Relations in Europe reports), the ILO Global Wage Reports, and various national sources The index for union centralisation follows the methodology proposed by Iversen (1999) and combines data on the concentration or fragmentation of trade unions with information on the division of authority in the union movement between confederations (or peak associations), affiliated unions, and local or workplace branches (Visser, 1990; Windmuller, 1975). The data are new and presented here for the first time (see below, and codebook). As the index on union centralisation is a composite variable, there are separate entries for union concentration, the intra- and inter-organizational degree of unity (or cohesiveness), and the degree of authority of confederations over their affiliates, and of affiliates over their (workplace or company) members.

On the organisation of unions and key bargaining units, indicated by the concentration or fragmentation of unions and confederations, and by the authority division between them, the main sources are Ebbinghaus and Visser (2000) for Western Europe; EIRO (2003) and the database of the Institut des Sciences du Travail of the Université Catholique du Louvain on les partenaires sociaux en Europe, developed for the European Commission (http://www.trav.ucl.ac.be/recherche), Carley, 2004, and various sources as well as EIRO country reports for Eastern Europe, and Golden, Lange and Wallerstein (2006) for non-European OECD countries: The data for the two five-point scales for confederal and union authority are mainly from Visser (1990) for Western Europe and the national (unpublished) reports for the DUES Handbook (Ebbinghaus and Visser, 2000) and from Golden, Lange and Wallerstein (2006) for non-European OECD Countries. The data for Central and Eastern Europe is from the UCL files, Kohl and Platzer (2004), and several national and comparative sources. I mention in particular the research of Gardawski,
Myant, Kahancova, Neumann, and Stanojevic on Polish, Czech, Slovak, Hungarian and Slovenian unions.

For the first time, and new in this database, is information on employer organization, and on the extent, coverage and nature of employee and union representation in enterprises, works councils or similar institutions. The data on employer organization is based on various sources, including Behrens and Traxler (2004), Kohl and Platzer (2004) and Carley (2009); and national sources. The data on representation in enterprises is based on Rogers and Streeck (1995); the two-volume report of the European Commission, DG Employment and Social Affairs (2008), and Hall and Purcell (2011), as well as national sources.

Also new is the coding on rights of association, rights of collective bargaining and the right of strike, with separate entries for the private or market sector and the government sector, defined as the general government, including public administration, defence, compulsory social insurance, education, health and social work. The main sources are the ILO Natlex legal database, Armingeon (1994), Blanpain (2004), and Ebbinghaus and Visser (2000).

Finally, the part on trade union membership and union density comes from Ebbinghaus and Visser (2000) for Western European countries, Visser, 1991, 1992, 1993 and 2006 for extensions to non-European countries, combined with recent administrative data on union organization and membership from the Dublin Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions (Carley, 2004) and from the European Social Survey (waves of 2002 and 2004) for countries in Eastern and Central Europe (for the sources and methods: R. Jowell and Central Coordinating Team (2003): European Social Survey 2002/2003. Technical Report. London: Centre for Comparative Social Surveys, City University, and http://www.europeansocialsurvey.org. All series have been updated till 2011 in this file. Sources and methodologies are described in Visser, 2006.

New in comparison with earlier versions of this database are the separate series on union density based on national (household or labour force sample) surveys, as reported in national sources, and a variable measuring the presence or recognition of trade unions in workplaces. Also new are the data on the composition of union membership and union density rates by gender, age groups, industry, public or private sector, skill level, blue and white-collar, company size, and native or foreign (or migrant) status. The data are from national labour force of household surveys, or dedicated surveys reported in the literature (see, among others, the publications by Anders Kjellberg for Sweden and the Nordic countries more generally, and the publications by the FAOS research institute in Copenhagen, and of FAFO in Oslo). For earlier years, and breakdowns based on administrative data: Visser (1991) and Ebbinghaus and Visser (2000).

Finally, compared to the three earlier versions, many series have been (slightly) revised. In the case of union density rates this may result from changes in the estimated net membership, changes in the employment data, or both. In the latest version of the OECD Labour Force Statistics (accessed 17 April 2013) there are numerous changes compared to earlier versions. Newer survey data for union membership has been used to calibrate the estimates for net union membership, including only wage and salary employees in employment.

Click here for the codebook
Click here for the ICTWSS Database 4, April 2013
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