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Document Type

Open Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Program

Economics

Year Degree Awarded

2018

Month Degree Awarded

September

First Advisor

Fidan Ana Kurtulus

Second Advisor

Gerald Friedman

Third Advisor

Eve Weinbaum

Subject Categories

Econometrics | Economic History | Income Distribution | Industrial Organization | Labor Economics | Political Economy

Abstract

I study the impact of wrongful discharge laws, a form of employment protection in the U.S., on union membership, wages, job tenure, and on-the-job training. There are several important contributions of this work to the previous social science research on the topic: First, I update the legal adoption dataset to 2014. Second, this is the first examination to date of the link between wrongful discharge laws and unions. Third, this is the first analysis that is able to include firm size controls in the investigation of the impact of wrongful discharge laws on wages. Finally, this analysis is the first to investigate the impact of wrongful discharge laws on the marginal distribution of wages, poverty status, job tenure, and training, and to investigate the impact across race and ethnicity. I find that one wrongful discharge law, the implied contract doctrine, increases union membership rates for all private-sector workers, across manufacturing and nonmanufacturing industries, and particularly for younger men and women. I find that two laws, the implied contract doctrine and the good faith doctrine, increase wages for low-wage workers, especially women, minorities, and manufacturing workers. Also, I find that the good faith doctrine raises workers’ tenure, and increases the probability that workers, particularly minorities and those within nonmanufacturing, participate in comprehensive on-the-job training. My results demonstrate that employment protection can promote union membership, wages, and stable and skilled employment, especially for younger workers, women, and minorities, all of whom have been hard hit by recent economic changes. Employment protection can serve as a valuable tool in fostering growth and fairness in the labor market.

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