Whatever Works: Dualisation and the Service Economy in Bismarckian Welfare States
23 Pages Posted: 12 Jul 2010
The paper compares employment structures in five Continental welfare states. These countries feature broad similarities in their reliance on a more dualised model of labour market flexibility, particularly in service occupations with low skill requirements. However, a closer look also reveals considerable differences between national patterns of standard and non-standard work. In Germany (and to a lesser extent Austria), marginal part-time provides a fertile ground for low-paid service jobs, as non-wage labour costs are minimised. In France, fixed-term contracts are a flexible and also cheaper alternative to permanent contracts, especially for younger workers. Dutch service sector employers follow an eclectic approach, as can be seen from high shares of self-employed and part-timers, as well as temporary workers. Finally, Belgium has large proportions of very low-skilled, own-account self-employed and involuntary fixed-term contracts. On the basis of these results, we identify four transformative pathways towards a more inclusive or flexible labour market: growing wage dispersion, defection from both permanent full-time employment as well as from dependent employment, and government-sponsored labour cost reductions.
Keywords: labour market dualisation, Continental Europe, fixed-term contracts, part-time work, wage dispersion
JEL Classification: J38, J41, J21, J58
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