Author: Giorgos Gouzoulis, University of Bristol, UK
While isolated episodes of work stoppages keep occurring, aggregate industrial action rates have been on the decline over the last five decades. Attempts to explain this trend centre on the short-term effects of the business cycle and the long-term impacts of labour market liberalisation, deindustrialisation and globalisation. This paper argues that household indebtedness is a missing piece of the puzzle. Since indebted employees tend to become self-disciplined at the workplace on the fear of losing their job and defaulting, this paper argues that the post-1970 rise of household financialisation is associated with the decline of strike activity. The econometric evidence reported provides strong support to this argument for the cases of Japan, Korea, Sweden, the United States and the United Kingdom over the period 1970–2018.