Trade unions in the Nordic Labour Market Models – signs of erosion?


Special issue editors: Sissel Trygstad, Kristin Alsos, Kristine Nergaard and Laust Høgedahl

Deadline for full papers has been extended to 15. February 2021. The issue is expected to be published by the end of 2021. Papers should be submitted to journal manager Bo Carstens,

Please contact Journal manager Bo Carstens,, if you have any questions regarding submissions.

High union density rates have been a characteristic of the Nordic labour market models, where strong and representative social partners and high industry level collective bargaining coverage make up the foundation. However, it can be argued the models are witnessing signs of erosion. Trade unions are on the decline in all Nordic countries with the exception of Iceland. This development may be stronger when observed at sector level or among certain groups of employees such as young employees or employees on temporary contracts. 

 With this special issue, we will like to invite scholars from all the Nordic countries to contribute to the issue of unions and union density, and especially welcome papers that could contribute to a better understanding of one or more of the following topics: 

  1. The development of union density and the drivers behind the changes, eg. Politics (like changes to the Ghent systems), structural change, changing attitudes towards unions among young - and foreign employees or in general.
  2. Variation in union strength/density and how this relates to employer organizing and collective bargaining coverage - understanding the development over time and its consequences.  
  3. Sector variations - is the Nordic labour market model effective in all parts of the labour market or only for the well-established/middle class segments? Blue color vs. white color workers? Private sector vs. public sector?
  4. How do unions (with the support of other actors) respond to declines in trade union membership?  Are they implementing new recruitment and retention strategies - if so, do they succeed?

 Papers may concentrate on one country or be comparative. 

Questions regarding this special issue can be sent to: Kristin Alsos (, Kristine Nergaard ( or Laust Høgedahl (