Within the last two decades, Germany has gone from being Europe’s problem child to its model pupil. Its unemployment rate is at an all-time low. The employment rate for older people has risen. The number of standard jobs including statutory social security contributions is growing. In contrast to Germany, previously lauded European countries such as Denmark or Ireland are experiencing difficult times in the financial and economic crisis. Whereas these countries’ weakly regulated labor markets and high levels of flexibility were once praised and considered important economic success factors, the situation now looks very different. The debate on the right level of labor market flexibility is therefore by no means over. It is still unclear how the expansion of flexible employment affects unemployment and labor market participation.
In order to contribute to this debate, we present detailed descriptions of 21 European countries. These country profiles show the development of atypical employment in comparison to standard employment, unemployment, and economic inactivity between 1996 and 2011. In our analyses, we distinguish between fixed-term employment, solo self-employment, substantial part-time work (between 20 and 35 hours/week), and marginal part-time work (less than 20 hours/week). By simultaneously considering standard employment, atypical employment, and non-employment, we are able to assess the consequences of flexible labor markets for the economic integration of different population groups, such as women, the elderly, young people, or the low-skilled.
The aggregated data of the EU-LFS data that we used in our analyses can be accessed from the project website.