Race, Ethnicity, and Immigration Workshop: Masoud Movahed, Postdoctoral Fellow, Penn

"Structural Power, Associational Power, and Income Inequality"
Feb 16, 2024 at - | Sociology Conference Room, McNeil 367

Under capitalism, workers have two sources of power: associational and structural. A vast body of social science research shows that workers’ power—most often measured by union density—is associated with lower levels of income inequality. Drawing on a country-level, panel dataset for much of the post-World War II era (1960-2022), the author introduces a model of distributive outcomes that centers on the dual sources of workers’ associational and structural powers. The author differentiates between workers’ sources of power and examines the extent to which they bear on distributive outcomes across the Global North. In cross-national panel data regressions, he presents strong evidence that while workers’ associational and structural powers are both statistically associated with lower levels of income inequality, it is workers’ structural—and not associational—power that drives egalitarian outcomes. Counterfactual simulations demonstrate that, on average, the working class' structural power explains a gap up to 8 percent in levels of income inequality.