What Percent of Strikes Are Successful?

What Percent of Strikes Are Successful?

Business / Society

This is a critical question to consider as we often have the tendency to think that strikes happen because those employees and employers fail to handle their relations in work very well. However, it is hard to address colleague relations from the perspective of a country. We must dive deeper and find other important factors present that may affect the strike activity in countries. That is the reason I am trying to propose my question as I consider that economic openness is an important factor in strike activity for a country. Therefore, after the completion of the project, countries can take more proactive approaches when handling strike actions as they can view the economic openness level is a potential area they can address since economic openness level is much easier to handle for a country than colleague relations (“Comparative Political Data Set 1960-2016”). 

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My hypothesis is that there is a negative correlation between economic openness level  and strike activity for countries. In other words, a country will have a decreasing index of strike  activity when their economic openness level is increasing.


In this project, countries that are analyzed are 36 countries that are either a member of the OECD or EU. Strike activity is measured by “working days lost per 1000 workers”. And the  openness of the economy is measured by “total trade (sum of import and export) as a percentage  of GDP.”

The dataset comes from a research project directed and funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation. The dataset involves many factual political data in each country that we examined. Which is quite reliable as the researcher is being objective as they are just collecting  the data for each country. Each one of the 36 countries possesses labels in international standard country codes, stored in the variable “iso”. Which become implemented into the index of strike activity and economic openness level.

There are 1578 entries in this variable. As each country’s data is not just represented in a one-year time frame. Instead the data measures inputs of each country’s economic openness level in a time frame that ranges from 1960 to 2016, so that is the reason we have this great number of entries for the dataset. From the data, we can see that a certain country’s total trades is 374.1% beyond their GDP each year. The reason we are having this data is that when we count  GDP, we include trades as “exports – imports’ ‘ as the partial calculation of our GDP. However,  in this dataset, we added up both exports and imports which may cause a scenario that trade is  way much higher than their respective GDP. 

When economic openness level increases, strike activity tends to decrease.

It is especially clear that this trend is following the linear trendline we implemented in the scatterplot, so based on the visual approach, we can see that  there is a negative correlation between economic openness level and strike activity. In addition, we can see that when openness level is less than 100, there are many dots that are way much higher on the strike activity based on y-axis, but when we go into economic level that is 100 and  beyond, there is not even a single dot that matches the strike activity that surpasses 500 or above,  which further strengthens the negative trend.

As we have a clear visual idea of what the  relationship between economic openness level and strike activity looks like. Moreover, we can start doing the linear regression analysis. 

We can conclude that with an increase of 1 percent in economic  openness level, there follows a decrease of 1.3927 in the index of strike activity. We are also  95% confident that the true slope between economic openness level and the index of strike  activity is between -1.85 and -0.93, which does not include 0, and the p-value of 3.245e-09 is a  very small number that is very close to 0 and far lower than the significance level of 0.05, which  means we can reject the null hypothesis (countries’ economic openness level has no effects on  countries’ strike activity index).

Based on the R-Squared value of 0.027, we can also conclude  that the percentage of the variation of the strike activity index is explained by the economic  openness level, which is 2.7%. In conclusion, we can reject the null hypothesis, but cannot  accept the alternative hypothesis. However, we can still indicate that countries’ economic  openness level does in some way (not fully) affect the strike activity in a negative correlation.


The data does confirm that my hypothesis is on the right track. As our null hypothesis becomes rejected on a 95% confidence interval and we can see that the data suggests that there is a clear negative correlation between economic openness level and strike activity index. In fact, the economic openness level has a high possibility to be a factor that affects strike activities in countries. Based on common sense. People will not initiate a strike. When they become satisfied with their working environment and paychecks. Which of course seems rather obvious.

When we think about the strikes of world history. Most strikes happen when people’s human rights become aborted. Or are not treated well by individuals that have higher social status. When we investigate the international trade a  country has participated in, it is not just exchanging goods. Instead, it can open economic opportunities for the country. Businessmen from abroad can have a deeper understanding of the country by trading, which can pave the way for their future investment in the country.

Such action can bring advanced and innovative resources to the country. Just imagine that there is a  country with many opportunities working in the global Fortune 500 companies, and there is a  country with jobs only available in low-income factories. Which one would you prefer? Of course, the first one, as there are many fields for people to select from and there are many open opportunities to have a high-income job with benefits, like bonus and well-established welfare. 

Blue-Collar Workers

However, when you work in a factory as a blue-collar worker. Then you may not become satisfied with your paychecks and the working environment. Then you may strive to fight against the  authority in hope of a higher living standard. These resources in some way do lower the strike  activity as better companies will have better management skills and be more democratic on  advice from employees, which may not bring up a problem like colleague relations and  unsatisfied working environment. There are still limitations in my analysis though. My dataset 

only involves 36 countries that are mostly EU and OECD countries, where economic activity has  already been at the top bracket of the world economic structure, so the trend and relation  between my two research variables might not be the best representative of all countries, as we do  not include some poorer countries or countries that are not in the economic ecosystem of OECD  or EU.

There are many other factors that can impact the strike activity, such as the  education background, political policies on unions, and social welfare etc. Based on this, we  cannot conclude that economic openness level is one of the most important factors in strike  activity as we did not investigate other factors, specifically in this project. Other  researchers may find a different result. As countries I included are already well-developed countries. Moreover, that have strong political policies. And social structures that back up the economic openness level. However, it might be a different story if researchers include all aspects of  countries. 


Before running the regression analysis, I assumed that there is a negative correlation between countries’ economic openness level and the strike activity index. After the regression analysis and visualization of the scatterplot. It is clear that there is a negative correlation by the trendline. And we can reject the null hypothesis and can continue to retain our hypothesis on a 95% confidence interval.

Since there is a high possibility that our hypothesis may be true  indeed. We can spread out a strong message to all countries that by increasing trade. And the economic openness level. Countries can potentially reduce the economic impact of strike and can  even aim for a prosperous economic structure. It might be easier for developed countries to trade with each other. As there are policies made to reduce tariffs and taxes on foreign products. But for countries who have resources, but no partnership with the global market. It can be extremely hard for them to promote their products overseas. As prices will not be competitive due to taxes or tariffs. Which will not bring better jobs back. As other countries may not see a great value of  investing in such country.

Jobs will also not reach the capacity as their products can only become sold in the domestic market.

Which can potentially lead to more strike activity as they tend to not be satisfied with their jobs or working environment.

Further research topics can include how developed countries can help developing countries increase their economic openness level to  reduce the impacts of strike activity. How can developed countries use their available resources. Moreover, to increase the already high economic openness level and reduce the risk of strike activity. In addition, it is possible to research the topic:

Is it possible to establish a mutually beneficial relationship on the decrease of strike activity between developed countries and developing countries when they trade?

Works Cited 

Armingeon, Klaus, Virginia Wenger, Fiona Wiedemeier, Christian Isler, Laura Knöpfel,  David Weisstanner and Sarah Engler. 2018. Comparative Political Data Set 1960-2016. Bern:  Insti-tute of Political Science, University of Berne.

What Percent of Strikes Are Successful? Written by Yiyang Chen