Union Density in Norway and Sweden: Stability versus Decline

Anders Kjellberg, Kristine Nergaard

Forskningsoutput: TidskriftsbidragArtikel i vetenskaplig tidskriftPeer review

1008 Nedladdningar (Pure)


The aim is to explain why union density is not only considerably higher in the Ghent country
Sweden than in non-Ghent Norway but also why it has declined much more in Sweden, in par-
ticular among blue-collar workers. We show how changes to Swedish unemployment insurance in
2007–2013 were followed by a decline in union density and how white-collar unions were more
successful than blue-collar unions in developing supplementary income insurance schemes that
counteracted membership losses. This type of institutional explanation is nevertheless insufficient.
In Norway, too, blue-collar density has decreased while white-collar workers have maintained their
density rate. Norwegian data further show that even without unemployment insurance funds, it is
possible to achieve a fairly high union density at workplaces with collective agreements. However,
without unemployment benefits like we find in Sweden, it is increasingly challenging to establish an
institutional foundation for a social custom of unionization.
Sidor (från-till)51-72
Antal sidor22
TidskriftNordic Journal of Working Life Studies
StatusPublished - 2022 feb. 23

Ämnesklassifikation (UKÄ)

  • Sociologi (exklusive socialt arbete, socialpsykologi och socialantropologi)

Fria nyckelord

  • union density
  • trade union
  • Norway
  • Sweden
  • Ghent system
  • income insurance
  • unemployment fund
  • a-kassa
  • fackförening
  • blue-collar worker
  • white-collar worker
  • Nordic model
  • Swedish model
  • industrial relations
  • foreign-born
  • domestic-born
  • LO
  • TCO
  • Saco
  • Unionen
  • If Metall
  • Sociology
  • Fafo


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