To read this content please select one of the options below:

Precarious Work in Europe: Assessing Cross-National Differences and Institutional Determinants of Work Precarity in 32 European Countries

Precarious Work

ISBN: 978-1-78743-288-8, eISBN: 978-1-78743-287-1

Publication date: 19 December 2017


Over the last few decades, precarious work rose as an important feature of socioeconomic insecurity in contemporary Europe. The following study asks: How do labor market institutions and labor market conditions shape work precarity in Europe? This research captures the elusive concept of precarious work by measuring the degree to which a job (1) is insecure and uncertain, (2) offers poor prospects of career mobility, and (3) puts workers in an economically insecure position with low pay. Building on two theoretical paradigms, the Varieties of Capitalism and the Power Resource Theory, this study derives and tests hypotheses about how macro-level factors shape the variation in the distribution of precarious work in 32 European countries. Combining individual-level data from the 2010 European Working Conditions Survey with country-level data from multiple sources, my findings suggest that work precarity decreases in countries with high percentages of employees in all enterprises receiving continual training, high percentages of all enterprises providing on-the-job training for employees, and high levels of spending on active labor market policies.




I am profoundly grateful for the guidance and support that Dan Cornfield and Larry Isaac offered from the beginning of the project. I thank Jeffrey Dixon, Chris Tilly, Jonathan Coley, and Ryan Talbert for providing helpful comments on earlier drafts of the chapter. I also thank the RSW editors and anonymous reviewers for engaging deeply with the development of the manuscript. An earlier version of this chapter was presented at the 2016 Annual Meeting of the American Sociological Association and the Mini-Conference on Precarious Work: Domination and Resistance in the U.S, China, and the World in Seattle, WA. I bear sole responsibility for errors and omissions.


Mai, Q. (2017), "Precarious Work in Europe: Assessing Cross-National Differences and Institutional Determinants of Work Precarity in 32 European Countries", Kalleberg, A.L. and Vallas, S.P. (Ed.) Precarious Work (Research in the Sociology of Work, Vol. 31), Emerald Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 273-306.



Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2018 Emerald Publishing Limited