Working Paper No. 47 - Trends in Work Stoppages: A Global Perspective

The paper describes in some detail the serious problems with missing strike activity data, with a large number of countries not collecting these data and a good many others collecting these data only intermittently. The paper makes recommendations as to the most cost-effective means of improving the collection of strike activity data.

This paper explores trends in international work stoppages over the last four decades or so. International collection practices are compared, extending the comparisons made in Fisher (1978), Sweet and Jackson (1977), Walsh (1983), Creigh and Poland (1983) and Monger (2004) to include 18 non-OECD countries. Two case studies of definitional changes are analyzed for the United States (USA) and Australia. In the case of the USA, the impact of the 1982 definitional change is reviewed, and estimates are made of USA small-scale stoppages for the period 1982-2002. These data are incorporated in a GDP-weighted 'global' work stoppages index covering the period 1960-2002. Comparisons are made between various 'global' work stoppages indexes and individual countries that make up the index. Comparisons are also made, although more limited, between other economies that have limited data runs. Tests for interdependence are carried out: (i) between stoppages in the USA and stoppages in the rest of the (non-USA) world; and (ii) between stoppages in North America and stoppages in the rest of the (non-North American) world. Evidence of cointegration is found, suggestive of a long-term equilibrium relation between the major 'halves' of the global economy.