Labour Markets in Transition
Edited by Ruud Muffels
Chapter 14: Conclusion. Flexibility and Employment Security in Europe: A Siamese Twin?
14. Conclusion. Flexibility and Employment Security in Europe: a Siamese Twin? Ruud Muffels 14.1 RESEARCH QUESTIONS AND CONCEPTUAL MODEL Transitional labour markets and flexicurity The now very popular debate on ‘flexibility’ and ‘security’ in European academic and policy circles mirrors the classical economic issue as to how policies can maintain or even improve the balance between efficiency and equity on the labour market. Flexibility is understood in this volume in economic terms as the degree to which the labour market is capable of creating opportunities for employers and employees to meet their demands for qualified workers and jobs. A flexible labour market implies an efficiently operating labour market exhibiting high levels of mobility on the internal (functional flexibility) as well as the external labour market (numerical flexibility). It means that employers have more leeway either due to lack of institutional constraints or to opportunities offered by the terms of law to adapt the workforce to changes in demand. For workers and the unemployed it means that they rapidly acquire the job they are looking for and for which they are qualified, but also that they can adapt their labour input according to their needs throughout the life-course (Schmid, 1995b). The meaning of equity and security is rather straightforward and boils down to assuming that properly working labour markets safeguard equal opportunities or chances to maintain fair levels of income and employment security to all workers over the entire career. To the extent that countries are capable to maintain a balanced...
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