Japanese Unions: Average or Exceptional?
How does Japan compare to the leading economies for unionization levels?
September 4, 2017
1. Since the 1830s, labor unions have played a key role in the Western world in securing better labor conditions, wages and benefits for their members.
2. However, in recent decades, the power of unions has been in decline in most wealthy countries. How does Japan, the leading non-Western developed economy compare?
3. With a unionization rate of about 17.6% as of 2014, Japan has a total of 9.8 million union members as of 2014. That is fairly typical of the OECD today.
4. Japan’s unionization level is around the same level as in countries like Germany (18.1%), the Netherlands (17.8%) and Spain (16.9%).
5. The average unionization level among industrialized OECD countries stands at 16.7%. It has fallen 3.7 percentage points since 2000.
6. The unionization rates are still much higher in the Nordic countries, even though they are declining even there.
7. Sweden’s rate fell from 79.1% to 67.3%, Finland’s from 75% to 69% and Denmark’s from 73.9% to 66.8%.
8. Iceland has the highest share of union members in its labor force, with some 86.4% of Icelandic workers organized in unions as of 2014.
Sources: The Globalist Research Center, OECD