Towards Convergence in Europe
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Towards Convergence in Europe

Institutions, Labour and Industrial Relations

Edited by Daniel Vaughan-Whitehead

This book aims to answer a number of important questions. To what extent have European countries converged or diverged with EU-wide economic and social indicators over the past 20 years? What have been the drivers of convergence? Why do some countries lag behind, while others experience continuous upward convergence? Why are these trajectories not always linear? Particular attention is paid to the role of institutions, actors and industrial relations – focusing on the resources and strategies of governments, employers and trade unions – in nudging EU countries onto an upward convergence path.
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Chapter 9: Social convergence, development failures and industrial relations: The case of Portugal

Pilar González and António Figueiredo


The Dutch polder model has practised secular moderation of bargained wages – 25 years’ standstill of purchasing power. Regulatory capture let the minimum wage lag behind and lowered the lowest wage scales, increasing wage inequality. This combined with strong employment growth – mostly in part-time jobs, often low paid and insecure. The household employment rate remained stagnant as single-earner and dual-earner households traded places. The frequent association of higher with lower earnings within dual-earner households mitigated the effects of wage inequality on household income inequality for the persons involved, but also increased inequality as it lifted many of these households higher up the distribution vis-à-vis other households. More than half of all actual aggregate wage growth has accrued to the top decile of the income distribution. Dual-earner world households’ joint access to jobs and working hours adds an essential dimension to income inequality that the polder model has missed.

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