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Annamaria Simonazzi

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Annamaria Simonazzi and Paola Villa

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Annamaria Simonazzi and Teresa Barbieri

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Annamaria Simonazzi and Giuseppe Fiorani

From the early 1990s, the Italian industrial relations system came to be described as an example of the ‘neo-corporatist revival’. ‘Negotiated flexibility’, implemented with the participation of the social partners, resulted in an increasingly polarised labour market, with a surge in precarious jobs concentrated mostly among the younger generations, and no lasting effects on employment. Since the crisis, labour legislation has turned from negotiated to unilateral. In the name of urgency, national governments have increasingly resorted to legislation by decree, sidestepping the social partners and national parliament to pass reforms in the fields of labour, welfare and industrial relations. The interaction of these reforms with austerity policies has eroded labour rights while weakening the labour unions, magnified the dualism marking the labour market and opened the way to greater precariousness, inequality and poverty. The case of Italy demonstrates that no degree of labour flexibility can amount to adequate response to the crisis, and that the multiple challenges raised by technological, organisational and social changes call for coordinated responses in the production, employment and social spheres.

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Annamaria Simonazzi, Valerio Ciampa and Luca Villamaina

Ireland over the period from 1995 to 2012 saw a remarkable economic boom followed by deep recession, going together with dramatic fluctuations in employment levels, major changes in the composition of the labour force and in occupation and social class structures. Collective bargaining and social partnership were central throughout the boom but collapsed at the onset of recession; a national minimum wage introduced in 2001 was key to subsequent trends in earnings dispersion. Over the entire period from 1995 to 2012, middle-income groups fared well relative to the rest of the distribution. Income dynamics in boom and bust are however central to understanding trends, with some types of households doing much better in the boom, while the bust also affected some groups much more severely than others. The impact of public expenditure on public services is also a core element of middle-income living standards.