Do Right-to-Work Laws Work? Evidence on Individuals’ Well-Being and Economic Sentiment

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This paper investigates the effects of state right-to-work (RTW) laws on individuals’ well-being and economic sentiment. Using licensed microdata from Gallup between 2008 and 2017, this paper finds that the adoption of RTW laws is associated with a .029 SD and a .041 SD increase in individuals’ life satisfaction and economic sentiment, respectively. A difference-in-differences estimator suggests that these improvements are concentrated among union workers. These results are robust to entropy balancing and border-pair approaches. Moreover, these improvements in well-being are consistent with an increase in competition among unions, which prompts them to provide higher-quality services that are valued by their members.

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