The effects of unions on productivity: Evidence from large coffee producers in Guatemala

By April 24, 2018Social dialogue


The general perception of unions in the Guatemalan business community has been that they have a negative effect on firms. Although this is a strong statement, there are very few studies of unionization in Guatemala, and most of them are only descriptive. This paper provides an econometric analysis of the impact of unions on productivity in Guatemala, specifically on the production of coffee. Although union density is low, we conclude from the empirical analysis that there is evidence that unions when present have a negative effect on the productivity of
large coffee plantations.

We use different estimations of a production function and the effect of unions on productivity. The first uses a union dummy and other independent variables, such as a capital proxy, the proportion of administrative and permanent workers, land per worker, total workers, farm elevation above sea level and a union dummy. The second uses these same equations, but with interaction terms between the original variables and the union dummy.

The results show that these other variables, when significant, had a positive effect on productivity. The only is total workers, which could be
indicating that diseconomies of scale are present. As for the interaction terms, when a union is present, the productivity of variables such as land per worker and height is reduced significantly. Also, it seems that capital has a larger effect on unionized farms productivity than on non-unionized farms. The presence of permanent workers on farms, both in unionized and non-unionized settings, has a negative effect on productivity.

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