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Flexicurity in the European Union: Flexibility for Outsiders, Security for Insiders


Olaf Van Vliet


Leiden University - Leiden Law School; Leiden University - Department of Economics

Henk Nijboer


Leiden Law School - Department of Economics

February 1, 2012


Abstract:     
Flexicurity is at the heart of European policy debates. Its aim is to overcome the tensions between labour market flexibility on the one hand, and the provision of social security for workers on the other hand. To date, there is little insight into whether flexicurity policies have been adopted across the European Union. Therefore, the aim of this paper is to analyse to what extent labour market policies have been reformed along the lines of the flexicurity concept across 18 European countries over the period 1985-2008. Focusing on the main axes of the flexicurity concept, new datasets are used to examine changes in employment protection legislation, unemployment benefits and active labour market policies. Data on the strictness of employment regulation indicate that reforms have been influenced by labour market insiders, since the level of flexibility has been increased more for temporary employment, the labour market outsiders, than for regular employment, the insiders. Although gross unemployment replacement rates suggest that unemployment benefits have become more generous, net replacement rates indicate that the level of income security from benefits actually has been decreased. Moreover, data illustrate that larger shares of European labour forces have temporary contracts. As such, the gap between insiders and outsiders on the labour market has been increased. This development is contrary to the goals of the European Commission.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 26

Keywords: Flexicurity, insider-outsider theory, labour market policy, welfare state, political economy

JEL Classification: H53, J08, J58

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Date posted: March 1, 2012  

Suggested Citation

van Vliet, Olaf and Nijboer, Henk, Flexicurity in the European Union: Flexibility for Outsiders, Security for Insiders (February 1, 2012). Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=2013295 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2013295

Contact Information

Olaf Van Vliet (Contact Author)
Leiden University - Leiden Law School ( email )
Steenschuur 25 PO Box 9520
Leiden, 2300 RA
Netherlands
HOME PAGE: http://www.law.leiden.edu/organisation/taxlawandeconomics/economics/staff/vliet.html
Leiden University - Department of Economics ( email )
P.O. Box 9520
2300 RA Leiden, NL-2300RA
Netherlands
HOME PAGE: http://www.law.leiden.edu/organisation/taxlawandeconomics/economics/staff/vliet.html
Henk Nijboer
Leiden Law School - Department of Economics ( email )
Steenschuur 25 PO Box 9520
Leiden, 2300 RA
Netherlands
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