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Labour Markets, Gender and Institutional Change

Essays in Honour of Günther Schmid

Edited by Hugh Mosley and Jacqueline O’Reilly

The original essays in this book have been written by a number of leading international experts in the field of labour market studies to honour the intellectual contribution and lifetime achievement of Günther Schmid.
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Chapter 13: Transitional labour markets: an economist's view

Jaap de Koning


13. Transitional labour markets: an economist’s view Jaap de Koning INTRODUCTION For decades now most EU countries have been suffering from high unemployment. Many of the unemployed are out of work for long periods, if not permanently. Moreover, unemployment in most countries is highly concentrated among specific groups, such as the low-skilled and those of foreign origin. Even in the countries that have implemented successful labour market policies unemployment remains a serious problem. It should be noted that we use the term ‘unemployment’ in a broad sense. It also covers older workers who have been given the opportunity to enrol in disability schemes and unemployed people (whether on benefits or not) who have been discouraged from seeking work. On this definition unemployment (or ‘inactivity’) is still considerable even in countries such as the Netherlands which have a very low official unemployment rate. Schmid (1998) has developed his ideas on transitional labour markets as an answer to the obvious inability of EU countries to solve the unemployment problem. The basic concept is some kind of redistribution of employment between the active and the inactive. However, the main innovation in his vision is that he links the solution of this problem to other key issues in society. The first issue is the fact that many of those in stable employment suffer from high work pressure. They do not have enough time to spend on other spheres of life. At some point this may affect their personal health (think...

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