Trends in Job Quality during the Great Recession: A Comparative Approach for the EU

Christine Erhel, Mathilde Guergoat-Larivière, Janine Leschke, Andrew Watt

    Research output: Working paperResearch


    This paper focuses on the consequences of the crisis on job quality in Europe. Its aim is twofold: first, to identify trends in job quality in the EU during the 2007-2009 crisis; secondly, to explore the link between these trends and cyclical as well as institutional factors. It relies on European surveys data (European Working Conditions Survey, Labour Force Survey, EU-SILC). A first step of the analysis relies on synthetic indices of job quality developed in previous researches (ETUI Job Quality Index) and compares 2005 and 2010. In average in the EU the aggregate index shows a marginal overall decline in job quality between 2005 and 2010. Improvements are visible with regard to working conditions, working-time and work-life balance. However, involuntary non-standard employment has increased and wages display a pronounced deterioration. Slight declines are also visible in skills and career development and in collective interest representation. At the national level some countries exhibit a more than marginal improvement in overall job quality (Poland, Czech Republic, Belgium and Denmark), whereas others see marked declines in job quality (Ireland and France). A second step builds on dynamic indicators calculated at the individual level. They account for individual transitions in terms of job quality during the trough of the economic downturn (between 2007 and 2009), using EU-SILC panel data. Using multi-level logistic regressions, the paper assesses the contribution of both individual and country-level characteristics (institutions and business-cycle indicators) to a possible deterioration in job quality. It shows that some socio-economic groups are more affected by decreasing trends in job quality (other things being equal), especially youth, older workers and low-educated workers. Women seem less affected by these negative trends than men but are more likely than men to become unemployed or inactive over the period. Cross-country heterogeneity in job quality trends can be related to economic trends (unemployment variation) and, to a minor extent, to the employment distribution by sectors. Some labour market institutions also seem to play a role in explaining the evolution of job quality in times of crisis: employment protection legislation (as defined by the OECD) prevents individual transitions to nonemployment (and has no direct effect on job quality) while public expenditure per unemployed slightly reduces the risk of job quality deterioration.
    Original languageEnglish
    Place of PublicationBruxelles
    PublisherCentre d’études de l’emploi
    Number of pages40
    ISBN (Print)9782111298316
    Publication statusPublished - Dec 2012
    SeriesDocument de travail

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