Green Shoots in the Labor Market: A Cornucopia of Social Experiments

31 Pages Posted: 24 Jan 2014 Last revised: 9 Apr 2015

See all articles by Katherine V.W. Stone

Katherine V.W. Stone

University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) - School of Law

Date Written: January 22, 2014


For the past two decades, there has been a transformation in the nature of work in industrial countries, a transformation that will have profound ramifications for decades to come. For most of the 20th century, the concept of “employment” meant a steady job with a decent wage level, an expectation of regular incremental raises, and clear pathways for promotion. Moreover, the ‘standard employment contract’ ensured that workers had not only jobs of open-ended duration but also an ample package of benefits and dependable social insurance. Since the late 1970s, that standard model of employment has been declining throughout the industrialized world. Today very few workers have long term jobs, nor do they have reliable pay increases or promotional opportunities, nor an adequate package of social insurance benefits. These changes in the nature of employment are undermining worker security throughout the industrialized world. Precarious work in all its guises is increasing rapidly, generating instability, insecurity, and frustration for individuals, and threatening disruption in the social fabric.

This essay describes the changes that have taken place in employment practices and regulation in advanced industrial countries. It first canvasses employment trends to show that job security and the other features of the standard contract of employment are fading. It then describes some measures undertaken in some countries and regions to try to protect workers and to ameliorate the insecurity that present practices human resource practices generate. It concludes by considering what countries can learn from ameliorative policies and programs in other countries.

Keywords: employment law, employment contracts, worker security, labor laws, employment trends

Suggested Citation

Stone, Katherine Van Wezel, Green Shoots in the Labor Market: A Cornucopia of Social Experiments (January 22, 2014). 36 Comparative Labor Law & Policy Journal 293 (2015), UCLA School of Law, Law-Econ Research Paper No. 14-01, Available at SSRN:

Katherine Van Wezel Stone (Contact Author)

University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) - School of Law ( email )

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