Innovating European Labour Markets

Innovating European Labour Markets

Dynamics and Perspectives 

Edited by Peter Ester, Ruud Muffels, Joop Schippers and Ton Wilthagen

This book examines innovative theoretical perspectives and novel labour market policy responses to Europe’s changing work demands, employment careers and life courses. It presents creative ideas and recommendations for flexicurity policies at various levels and in different social and economic contexts. The driving factors determining the performance of dissimilar pathways in Europe are identified in regard to their impact on the flexibility/security nexus. Key issues in the current European policy debate are addressed, including how innovative policies are designed in the areas of working time, education, work–life balance, employment relations, retirement and migration, how they are put into practice and what determines their level of success.

Chapter 12: Diverging Career Paths: Mind Your Step!

Amelia Román, Joop Schippers and Leen Heylen

Subjects: economics and finance, labour economics, social policy and sociology, labour policy


Amelia Román, Joop Schippers and Leen Heylen 12.1 INTRODUCTION The unremitting process of individualisation – where personal choice prevails in the organisation of life course biographies – creates a diversification of life course patterns in European societies (Du Bois-Reymond, 1998; Giddens, 1991). Paid labour takes a central but no longer automatically predominant position within these life course patterns. The more traditional breadwinner’s career and the partner’s role of housewife of previous generations, is losing ground as an increasing number of women enter and remain active participants in the labour market. This creates new challenges for combining work with other important life domains such as care, training and leisure. This is particularly true during the period in the life course when work (through career building) and home (in raising a family) are experienced as conflicting demands in households resulting in a time squeeze (Groot and Breedveld, 2004). Facilities for combining work and care are increasingly being provided in many countries and we know from research that these play an important role in keeping women active in the labour market. Studies providing insight regarding the long-term consequences of the use of such facilities are however, rather scarce (see among others Vlasblom and Schippers, 2005). Enhancing the labour participation throughout the life course is one of the central building blocks of the European Employment Strategy.1 If Europe can achieve this goal, the negative consequences of dejuvenation (lower birth rates) and the aging baby boom cohort can, for the most part, be compensated. An increase...

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