Why Have Workers Stopped Joining Unions? The Rise in Never-Membership in Britain


  • Alex Bryson,

  • Rafael Gomez


This paper tracks the rise in the percentage of employees who have never become union members (‘never-member’) since the early 1980s and shows that it is the reduced likelihood of ever becoming a member, rather than the haemorrhaging of existing members, that is behind the decline in overall union membership in Britain. We estimate the determinants of ‘never-membership’ and consider how much of the rise can be explained by structural change in the labour market and how much by change in preferences among employees.