European labour market trajectories before and during the 2008 financial crisis: national, regional and individual variation
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Since 2008 Europe has been in crisis, a financial and debt crisis that spread from the U.S. to all European countries. This thesis aims to provide evidence on the consequences of the crisis for individuals’ labour market outcomes across different countries and regions of Europe and to analyse how the recession has differentially affected sub-groups of the European population. Through the analysis of the longitudinal component of the European Union Statistics on Income and Living Conditions (EU-SILC) dataset, the project sheds light on the labour market trajectories of more than 20,000 Europeans across 11 European countries and 41 regions, before and during the 2008 financial crisis (2005-2012). Sequence and cluster analysis are used to investigate the heterogeneity of individual labour market trajectories across countries and time, while multilevel models are used to study regional labour markets during the years in crisis. The concept of transitional labour markets, as well as theories of labour market segmentation, job competition and job mobility, provide the theoretical framework for this research. The empirical findings show that during the financial crisis, labour market trajectories appear more turbulent and fragmented for the already disadvantaged sub-groups, namely women, younger workers and low educated workers. Furthermore, during the Great recession, an increase in unemployment among men confirms the sectoral profile of the crisis, which hit harder the male-dominated sectors of construction and industry. At the same time, a decrease in inactivity among women is consistent with the added worker effect, according to which women in periods of economic hardship are pushed towards labour market activity in order to contribute to the household income. Countries with weak economies and underperforming labour markets prior to the crisis, such as Greece and Italy, unsurprisingly experienced a deep and persistent crisis, while countries with stronger economies and more inclusive labour markets, such as Denmark and Sweden, managed to survive the crisis with less social harm. The institutional context of the countries offering high chances of employment even during the financial crisis, such as the Nordic countries, lies on the flexicurity of their labour markets. Indeed, flexible labour markets with the use of reduced working-time schemes, i.e. part-time forms of employment, contained unemployment during the financial shock. However, we need to be cautious about flexibility without security or partial deregulation of the markets, implemented in southern European countries, because during the crisis such policies led to further labour market segmentation and thus an increase in employment inequalities. Finally, the region of residence matters in employment outcomes, almost as much as the country of residence. In fact, from the regional analysis of individual employment outcomes during the years of the crisis, an uneven distribution of labour is detected even within the national borders. Summing up, the European crisis should be considered as the sum of national and regional crises.