Flexibility and Employment Security in Europe
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Flexibility and Employment Security in Europe

Labour Markets in Transition

Edited by Ruud Muffels

This book seeks to gain a better understanding of the paradoxical relationship between the alleged need of European labour markets to become more flexible and the way in which national policies pursue this aim without jeopardising existing high standards of income and employment security. Special interest is devoted to the way in which countries opt for different policy routes to cope with the aim of balancing flexibility and security goals in their respective labour market and social protection policies. The contributions in this book all try to unveil the particular changes or transitions occurring in the various labour markets, to learn about their medium and longer term effects and the role of institutions and policies to cushion the adverse consequences of these changes. By studying some ‘best practices’ in Denmark, Canada and Australia they also draw some important lessons about the reasons why national policies might either fail or better cope with the challenges Europe face today.
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Chapter 1: Flexibility and Employment Security in Europe: Setting the Scene

Ruud Muffels

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1. Flexibility and Employment Security in Europe: Setting the Scene Ruud Muffels 1.1 INTRODUCTION This book seeks to gain a better understanding of the paradoxical relationship between the alleged need for European labour markets to become more flexible and the way in which national policies pursue this aim without jeopardising existing high standards of income and employment security. The book devotes special interest to the way in which countries opt for different policy routes to cope with the aim of balancing flexibility and security goals in their respective labour market and social protection policies. The idea of policies focusing on balancing flexibility and security goals has become key now in the European social policy debate under the heading of ‘flexicurity’ (Wilthagen, 1998; Wilthagen and Tros, 2004). This volume tries to document the differences and similarities of the various labour markets in Europe in coping with the pressures of enhancing the flexibility of its labour markets and simultaneously maintaining employment security. All labour markets confront changing mobility and working patterns albeit to a different extent and complexity causing what is called a diversification or individualisation of careers and life courses. The book examines in particular the potential trade-offs between economic and social goals translated into the question as to how and to what extent employment regimes in Europe are capable – through their particular institutional design – of attaining fairly high levels of flexibility and employment and income security simultaneously. The book deals with this relationship by examining the role and performance of...

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