Trade Unions in Western Europe since 1945

Description of the Data on CD-ROM


Introduction to CD-ROM

by Bernhard Ebbinghaus

Trade unions are one of the major social institutions in modern industrial societies, yet comparable data are difficult to obtain. As a supplement to the handbook, the CD-ROM provides data for further analyses of union movements in Western Europe. The CD-ROM includes not only some of the printed comparative time-series and country tables in computerized form, it also contains additional databases on major national union organizations and their membership development. Most importantly, the CD-ROM includes the standardized databases for easy access to the original data collections. These databases allow further analysis by the reader, be it a search of particular information on a given confederation or individual union, or new analyses of these rich data sets. Thus, with the help of the CD-ROM, the reader can study unions in respect to the variety of existing organizations, membership developments, and union density trends for individual countries, comparatively or at the European level.

To make proper use of the electronic tables and data-bases included, users of the electronic version are asked to consult the handbook. Especially, the Introductory Guide (Chap. 1) presents the main concepts and methods used for the collection and analysis of union data covered in tables  databases. The Comparative Profile (Chap. 2), maps the main trends since 1945 and examines cross-national differences of Western European union movements, as well as providing comparative tables. For analyses of particular countries, the handbook’s Country Profiles (Chap. 3-17) introduce the reader to national histories, institutional backgrounds, sources and methods used, and relevant literatures.

Level and coverage

The handbook and CD-ROM cover all major Western European countries, that is, all of the European Union member states (except Greece and Luxembourg), plus Norway and Switzerland. For most countries, data is available since 1945 until the most recent data, in many countries information is updated until 1998. It also provides comparative indicators across these countries, though no time series data is available for Portugal. In addition, it also includes an overview on the main transnational union organizations at the European level, in particular the ETUC (including its member organizations in Central and Eastern Europe).

On the CD-ROM the user finds easy access to the different levels (European level, comparative, country) by clicking on the window on the left.

 European level European organizations (ETUC's member organizations and its European Industry Federations)
 Comparison Comparative tables and indicators (aggregate and confederation level)across Western Europe
Country Countries covered (1945-): Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany (1950-), Ireland, Italy (1950-), the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal (1975-), Spain (1977-), Sweden, Switzerland, and United Kingdom / Great Britain

Type of information

The CD-ROM provides information on three main aspects of union movements for each country, comparative overview, or European level.
Organizations A list and organizational history of the main confederations and major national unions (including information on organizational changes such as mergers, on their affiliation to union confederations, and on their union domain). Also given are time series on the number of unions within a confederation and nation-wide.
 Membership For the main confederations and for all major national unions, annual series on total, female and non-active membership are provided. The tables include aggregate summary statistics for membership by public/private and white/blue-collar domains, by major economic sector, and by selected branches.
 Density Indicators on the degree of unionization among the workforce are provided annually: gross density in percent of (I) dependent employed or (II) dependent labour force as well as net density, for which non-active members have been deducted (partly based on estimates).

Type of data

The following type of data are available on this CD-ROM, they allow browsing, printing, and/or further computation depending on the data format:
  Tables Handbook tables (10, 13-19) and additional time series on major national unions (PDF and EXCEL formats)
 Databases Databases on main confederations and on major national unions (names,organizational changes, affiliation) (DBF and ACCESS databases)
 Documentation Directories of the main confederations and of the major national unions (plus affiliation history and sector coding of national unions). Notes explaining the codes used in databases. (HTML format)

In order to allow for specialized searches and individual analyses of union organizations and membership data, the CD-ROM provides the user with data at the level of individual organizations (except for France and Portugal, where only organizational databases are available). The databases Union Organization (UO) and Union Membership (UM) are available in ACCESS and DBase III formats for nearly all countries . They cover nearly 1,200 national unions in Western Europe and over 10,000 records of annual membership by these unions (in France, only by confederation). Nevertheless, the databases are subsets of the original data collection, which is about three times as large. The same selection criteria as for Country Table 4 were applied, that is, national unions with more than 10,000 members for at least one postwar year (except Ireland: 5,000; and Germany, Italy, and UK: 50,000 members). For each national union, total membership and, where available, female and non-active membership data is given. In addition, summary statistics for those unions that were not selected are given: the number of non-selected unions and their combined membership, for each confederation and for all independent unions.

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Data on CD-ROM