Which is best for the economy: employment stability or employment flexibility? A recent article in the ILO's International Labour Review analyzes the relationship between employment stability and productivity in six major sectors in 13 European countries. According to the authors, both, extensive and short job tenure can produce adverse affects on productivity. They propose a policy of 'protected mobility' on the labour market, together with active labour market policies seeking to combine both flexibility and security. ILO online spoke with Peter Auer, co-author of the article. Article | 20 January 2006
ILO online: Has employment become more flexible in Europe?
Peter Auer: Despite a general feeling of growing job insecurity, employment stability remains a salient feature of contemporary labour markets. In 2002, the average German worker stayed with the same employer for 10.7 years, the average French worker for 11.3 years, the average British worker for 8.1 years, and the average American worker for 6.6 years (1998 data). The country with the longest tenure is Greece, where the average worker stayed with the same employer for 13.2 years, followed by Japan with 12.2 years and Italy with 12.1 years. Overall in Europe, tenure averaged around 10.5 years during the period 1992-2002, with a slightly increasing trend. There has been no dramatic change in employment duration, the long-term employment relationship has not disappeared, and there has been no convergence towards the US model of markedly shorter average employment duration. Nevertheless there is also an increase in flexible forms of employment, especially part-time jobs. But many of these part-time jobs are in fact long-tenured jobs, as part-time work is increasingly becoming a regular form of employment in today's economies, though it concerns women more than men. The salient observation is that employment relations are still rather stable, while flexibility has increased at the margin. ILO online:...
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