WP10: Flexicurity

WP Leader UNITN Paola Villa
WP Co-leader UT Raul Eamets

Our overall aim is to evaluate flexicurity as a policy approach for tackling youth joblessness in Europe both in terms of its effect on employment levels for young people and the quality of their employment. This aim is achieved through the following five research objectives:

  1. Mapping flexicurity performance in the face of the crisis;
  2. Youth School To Work Transitions: from entry jobs to career employment;
  3. Subjective insecurity, unemployment and well-being;
  4. Flexicurity policies to integrate youth before and after the crisis;
  5. Integration: Cross-Package Communications and Policy Briefs.
D 10.1 Report Mapping flexicurity performance in the face of the crisis
D 10.2 Report From entry jobs to career employment
D 10.3 Report Subjective insecurity
D 10.4 Report Flexicurity Policies to integrate youth before and after the crisis
D 10.5 Policy synthesis and integrative report

Work and Role of Partners

Task 10.1 – Mapping flexicurity performance

We will address the following questions:

  1. How do institutional configurations cluster into different types of ‘flexibility-security’ combinations and how have these changed over time?
  2. How do these different institutional clusters affect men and women and particular vulnerable groups differently?
  3. How have the economic crisis and the ensuing policy responses challenged the balance between external flexibility and income protection for young people in Europe?

Using OECD indicators (Indicators of Employment Protection, 2008 update), the Social Policy Reform Inventory from fRDB-IZA and Eurostat data on expenditure and participants in labour market programmes we will map the comparative institutional framework.

A dataset will be created covering OECD-Europe. Panel data techniques will be used to estimate the interplay between flexibility, flexicurity and the volatility of unemployment (Maselli 2010). This examines within effects and between effects to explain deviations from the long-term unemployment rate, for youth and the total workforce.

We use panel data for the UK and Germany from 2008 onwards to analyse how the economic crisis and the ensuing policy responses have challenged the balance between external flexibility and income protection for different groups of young people in Europe. This analysis will draw on event history analysis and multinomial regression models making use of Understanding Society (integrated BHPS sample) and the German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP). Data are available with a time-lag of about 1 ½ years.

Task 10.2 – School To Work Transitions

We examine how cluster characteristics of different flexicurity regimes impact on a range of youth transition trajectories. Key issues to be considered include:

  1. the time needed to find a first job after completing education;
  2. the characteristics of first jobs and its duration;
  3. the characteristics and patterns of transition into career employment.Using longitudinal EU-SILC data to measure status sequences over 5 years distinguishing between a range of individual school-to-work trajectories (Walther and Pohl 2005, Walther 2006).

We identify the prevailing transition pathways and their associated characteristics to examine the role of institutional arrangements and policy factors that are most favourable for job security and gender equality. This analysis will develop a synthetic indicator of ‘transition pattern insecurity’

Task 10.3 – Subjective insecurity & well-being

Drawing on the policy configurations developed by the EU and in Task1 (above) we ask:

  1. Do different flexicurity systems influence the level of subjective insecurity experienced by young people and the degree of segmentation in perceived insecurity (between young and older workers, by gender and across non-standard contracts)?
  2. Do flexicurity arrangements moderate the effect of unemployment and insecurity on subjective well-being among young people?
  3. Are country/regime differences in the impact of insecurity/unemployment better accounted for by variation in financial security, or through better job prospects (access to training, lower unemployment rates, greater spending on active labour market policies)?

We analyse cross-national data from the European Social Survey (2004, 2010), and from the European Working Conditions Survey (1995/6, 2000, 2005, 2010). Both of these sources contain measures of perceived insecurity, contract status, and outcome measures such as life satisfaction, WHO5 measure of general mental well-being (EWCS 2010 only; ESS 2004; ESS2010 reduced version) and self-assessed health. We use regression models and multi-level models (MLM) to explore the extent to which the relationship between insecurity and subjective well-being is associated with individual and country level factors (e.g. ALMP, replacement rates, unemployment rates).

Task 10.4 – Flexicurity Policies

Young people are often excluded or differentiated from core workers in relation to issues of pay and entitlements so as to make them more attractive to employers. This work task examines a range of policies related to flexibility and security across Europe to understand how effective they have been at integrating different categories of young people, and distinguishing between the effect of these by gender and vulnerability.

This task will provide a qualitative analysis of a sample of policies targeted to foster the inclusion of youth in employment (including both success and failures with respect to the planned goals), focusing on policies since 2005, to coincide with the emergence of flexicurity as a key goal of the EU policy framework for labour market reforms. This will include: i) an overview of national policies in EU-27 having a direct or indirect impact on youth flexicurity; ii) qualitative analysis of a selection of policies designed and implemented to target young people in the labour market.

Our empirical analyses will concentrate on a range of countries including small open economies (the three Baltic and Nordic countries) and larger economies (including France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the UK). The qualitative analysis for the 27 MS will be based on official documents produced within the EES at the EU and national level (including: LABREF database). This will be complemented by 3/5 case studies (local labour markets) focused on as selection of policies, carried out by qualitative interviews with the social partners and local authorities (approximately 5-10 in-depth interviews for each case study) and focus group methodology with young people involved in the policies considered (approximately 2 focus groups for each case study).

Task 10.5 – Policy synthesis

Each partner will provide a summary Policy Brief from their WP tasks to enable cross-package communications between other WPs in this project and provide input into WP 3 & 4.