Comparing European Workers Part A: Volume 22 Part 1


Table of contents

(13 chapters)

The chapters in the volume are organized into two sections. The first three chapters examine the “Experience of Work” in European countries. The following four focus on various aspects of economic “Inequality” by drawing comparisons between and within Europe and other affluent democracies. In this section, I provide a brief preview of each chapter and identify a few of the unique contributions of each.

Purpose – In this chapter, we examine individual- and country-level differences in perceived job insecurity in the 27 European Union countries (EU27) within a multilevel framework.

Design/methodology/approach – We primarily focus on cross-national differences in perceived job insecurity in the EU27 and consider several possible explanations of it, including flexible employment practices, economic conditions, labor market structure, and political institutions. We examine both individual- and country-level determinants using multilevel partial proportional odds models based on individual-level data from the 2006 Eurobarometer 65.3 and country-level data from a variety of sources.

Findings – We find that European workers feel most insecure in countries with high unemployment, low union density, low levels of part-time and temporary employment, relatively little social spending on unemployment benefits, and in post-socialist countries.

Research limitations/implications – The findings from this study suggest that flexible employment practices do not necessarily cause workers to feel insecure in their jobs. This is likely due to the different nature of part-time and temporary employment in different institutional contexts.

Originality/value – This study is one of the most comprehensive accounts of perceived job insecurity in Europe given the focus on a larger number of countries and macro-level explanations for perceived job insecurity.

Purpose – In this chapter, we examine individual- and country-level differences in 4 work attitudes (work centrality, work commitment, job satisfaction, and autonomy) among 31 European countries in 1999 using a multilevel framework.

Design/methodology/approach – We utilize the 1999/2000 European Values Study to investigate individual- and country-level determinants of work values and job rewards. Our analysis contains 17 traditionally capitalist and 14 post-socialist countries. At the country level, we consider 11 institutional processes as possible explanations for variations in work values and job rewards: post-socialist status, continuous democracy, contentious politics, state capacity, socialist ideology, union density, economic integration, service employment, income inequality, linguistic heterogeneity, and population density.

Findings – We find that traditionally capitalist countries tend to score lower on work values and higher on job rewards than post-socialist countries. Our analyses show that each of the 11 institutional processes, especially continuous democracy and economic integration, has statistically significant effects on the four dependent variables.

Research limitations/implications – Of the 44 hypotheses we made, 23 were supported by statistically significant effects in the predicted direction, 16 were not significant, and 5 were statistically significant in a direction unanticipated by our theory. We discuss possible reasons for the results that did not conform to our expectations.

Originality/value – The study is one of the most comprehensive multination studies of work values and job rewards in that it examines the impact of 11 institutional processes on four different work attitudes among 31 European countries. It is the only study of this scope to rigorously examine the differences between traditionally capitalist and post-socialist countries.

Purpose – Turkey has undergone a major market transformation during the recent decades. This chapter seeks to explore the role of religious politics in some Turkish informal workers' pro-capitalistic change of heart as a response to that transformation.

Methodology/approach – The study is based on participant observation and interviews in a squatter district in Istanbul, Sultanbeyli. This is a two-phase ethnography, consisting of first-hand observations first during 2000–2002, and then in 2006. The fieldnotes are supplemented by 90 interviews.

Findings – Islamic mobilization eases the transformation of habitus in a liberalizing society and the transition from the predominance of social capital to the predominance of economic capital. I contend that the sub-proletariat's dispositions depend on (urban as well as national) historical context and articulation to political and religious movements.

Originality/value of paper – I discuss Bourdieu's study of the transition from subsistence-driven economies to market economies. The chapter points out that Bourdieu's approach to the problem of transition is more satisfactory in comparison to modernization theory and resistance studies. However, I will show that the problems Bourdieu identifies in Kabylia and Béarn (such as “fatalism of despair”) are less salient in Istanbul because of a sociopolitical movement (Islamism) that garners consent among the sub-proletarians by using religion as a disciplining force.

Purpose – The aim of this chapter is to measure the wage premium associated with various levels of educational attainment using micro-data from the Luxembourg Income Study. The study focuses on working-aged adults in eight developed countries for various years between 1984 and 2005.

Methodology – The chapter computes wage ratios reflecting the premium associated with low, medium, and high levels of educational attainment, which correspond to completion of less than secondary education, secondary education, and tertiary education, or an equivalent level of vocational training. These ratios, along with several other variables, are then related to the 90/10, 75/25, 90/50, and 50/10 wage ratios in a country-level unbalanced pooled cross-sectional time series analysis.

Findings – Returns to education account for an important share of cross-country variation in various modes of wage inequality, although other variables matter as well.

Research limitations – The data needed to compute returns to education data are unavailable for a number of countries and years.

Originality – The chapter offers a more precise measure of the returns to education than earlier cross-national work, which has typically focused on average levels of education and other aggregate measures.

Purpose – David Gordon (1996) contended that the size of the managerial/administrative class has expanded in recent decades and that this has contributed to growing earnings inequality. This argument, however, has received insufficient attention despite its potential to explain some of the growth of earnings inequality in recent decades. We assess whether managerial intensity contributes to earnings inequality in affluent democracies, and thus evaluate his argument and extend it with a comparative perspective.

Methodology/approach – Our analyses are based on panel analyses of 17 affluent democracies from 1973 to 2004. Utilizing random- and fixed-effects models, we include three different measures of earnings inequality and an original measure of managerial intensity.

Findings: We show that managerial intensity is positively associated with all three measures of earnings inequality in random-effects models. As well, managerial intensity is positively associated with earnings inequality in the fixed-effects models for the 90/50 ratio of earnings inequality, but is not significant for the other two measures.

Originality/value – This study provides one of the few tests of Gordon's argument. We demonstrate that growing managerial intensity has contributed to rising earnings inequality in affluent democracies. In contrast to previous research, we argue that much of the rise of earnings inequality is due to political/institutional factors rather than labor market and demographic change. One of the reasons for Europe's relatively lower level of and slower increase in earnings inequality is its lower managerial intensity.

Purpose – This chapter examines how gender, parenthood, and partner's employment are related to individual's employment patterns, analyzing paid work at individual and household levels.

Methodology/approach – Analyses use individual-level data from the Luxembourg Income Study (LIS) wave 5 for 19 countries, for adults aged 25–45. We use logistic regression and a two-stage Heckman sample selection correction procedure to estimate the effects of gender and parenthood on the probabilities of employment and full-time employment.

Findings – The variation between mothers and childless women is larger than that between childless men and childless women; differences in women's employment patterns are driven by gendered parenthood, controlling for women's human capital, partnered status and household income. Fathers and mothers' employment hours in the same household vary cross-nationally.

Mothers' employment behaviors can identify important differences in the strategies countries have pursued to balance work and family life.

Research implications – Important differences between childless women and mothers exist; employment analyses need to recognize the variation in employment hours among women, and how women's hours are related to partners' hours. Further research should consider factors that shape employment cross-nationally, as well as how these relate to differences in wages and occupational gender segregation.

Practical implications – Employment choices of women and mothers must be understood in terms of employment hours, not simply employment, and within the context of partners' employment.

Originality/value of paper – Our chapter clarifies the wide dispersion of employment hours across countries – and how men's and women's employment hours are linked and related to parenthood.

Purpose – We study the determinants of growing wage inequality in 16 OECD countries in the past two decades of the twentieth century. The main independent variables that we consider are those pertaining to labor market institutions, to international trade with less developed nations, and to deindustrialization.

Methodology – We specify a statistical model of pay differentials using first differences over five-year periods. The main estimation method used is weighted ordinary least squares. Where necessary, we use instrumental variables and two-stage least squares. We also undertake extensive robustness exercises, including a version of extreme bounds analysis and deleting each individual country from the analysis.

Findings – The determinants of wage inequality are different in the 1980s and in the 1990s. In the 1980s, growing wage dispersion is due to changes in the institutions of the labor market, including declining unionization and declines in the level at which wages are bargained collectively. In the 1990s, increases in pay inequality are due to increasing trade with less developed nations and weakening of social insurance programs.

Originality – This is the first study to report that the causes for pay inequality differed between the 1980s and the 1990s. It is also the first to document statistically that trade with the less developed nations systematically increases pay inequality in the developed world in the 1990s.

Publication date
Book series
Research in the Sociology of Work
Series copyright holder
Emerald Publishing Limited
Book series ISSN