Bernhard Ebbinghaus, Claudia Göbel, Sebastian Koos
Social capital, 'Ghent' and workplace contexts matter: Comparing union membership in Europe

European Journal of Industrial Relations, 2011: 17, issue 2, pp. 107-124
ISSN: 09596801

Union density still varies considerably across Europe. This cross-national diversity has inspired multiple explanations ranging from institutional to workplace or socio-demographic factors. In this comparative multilevel analysis, we combine personal, workplace and macro-institutional explanations of union membership using the European Social Survey. By controlling for individual factors, we test the cross-national effect of meso- and macro-level variables, in particular workplace representation, establishment size, Ghent unemployment insurance and a society’s social capital. We conclude that all these institutional and social contextual factors matter in explaining differences in union membership.