What Implications for the ‘European Social Model’?
Edited by Marie-Ange Moreau
Chapter 3: Inequalities Before and After the Crisis: What Lessons for Social Europe?
Daniel Vaughan-Whitehead INTRODUCTION While growing inequalities have been a major policy concern over the past decade (ILO, 2008), the current crisis – the most serious since 1929 – may have exacerbated the problems. Clearly, different categories of workers have different degrees of vulnerability to the consequences of the crisis, both direct – restructuring, lay-offs and falling wages – and indirect – deteriorating working conditions, less access to social dialogue and so on. The issue of inequalities is also relevant for economic recovery. Many economists have emphasized that the crisis may be partly due to the unequal redistribution of growth; this would mean that the issue of inequalities should definitely be addressed in order to allow European and non-European economies to move towards recovery and, even more importantly, sustainable growth. In this chapter, we address the issue of inequalities before the crisis, before giving the first results of research into inequalities during the crisis. We conclude with some policy recommendations that would make it easier to address work inequalities in the European policy context. TRENDS IN INEQUALITIES BEFORE THE CRISIS When we look at the period since the mid-1990s we can see that the European area has generally been characterized by growing inequalities, with at least five major trends particularly catching the eye. 40 MOREAU PRINT.indd 40 03/10/2011 16:06 Inequalities before and after the crisis 105 100 95 90 85 80 75 70 65 60 55 50 45 40 35 30 25 20 15 10 5 0 –5 –10 Denmark Portugal Slovakia France Hungary Sweden...