The Erosion of Regular Work: An Analysis of the Structural Changes in the Swiss and German Labour Markets
For the past few decade, the hypothesis on the ‘erosion of regular work’ has received a remarkable amount of attention, especially in the German literature. Usually, regular work (or standard employment) is characterized by full-time employment based on a non-temporary labour contract. Wages and salaries are standardized through collective labour agreements and include social security contributions. The hypothesis on the erosion of regular work states that standard employment is being displaced by more atypical forms of employment. Increasingly accepted forms of labour are modern, more flexible, yet more precarious and unprotected. However, whether the hypothesis of the displace- ment and substitution of traditional work forms is supported empirically, and if so, to what extent such labour-market transformations are taking place, has not yet been answered satisfactorily. We therefore analyse here the degree to which the different forms of employment currently exist in the Swiss and German labour markets and how labour-market structures have changed. Our analyses reveal that there is, in fact, a tendency to replace standard employment with other forms of labour. This is true for both countries despite the clearly more rigid labour-market regulations in Germany that could be expected to have a decelerating effect. For men, in particular, an erosion of regular work can be observed over all age groups and not only ‘at the edges’ of the age distribution. Furthermore, the process did not start until the 1990s. In the preceding years a decline in standard employment relationships can he observed in a relative sense only. This pretended erosion is primarily due to the expansion of (female) labour market participation and with it a disproportionate growth of atypical (that is, part-time) employment.
KeywordsEurope Income Shrinkage Expense OECD
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