AIAS Lunch Seminar 10 May - Martin Olsthoorn - Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences/UvA

Precarious Employment

Day: Thursday 10 May
Time: 12.15 – 13.15 hrs.
Location: AIAS, 3rd floor, M building, Plantage Muidergracht 12, Amsterdam
Registration: Please send an email, preferably before Tuesday 8 May, 12.00 hrs. to register.
A sandwich will then be provided.


Precarious employment is on the rise, as scholars claim (Kalleberg, 2011; Vosko, 2008). The precariously employed earn low wages, have little security and occupy jobs that can overall be deemed to be of low-quality. These employees consequently run a disproportionally high risk of adverse psychological and physiological effects. Despite the salience of the issue, precarious employment remains an elusive concept, and has proven hard to measure directly. Instead, measurement tends to rely on non-integrated indicators and proxies, which introduces serious issues with the validity of found results. In this paper, an integrated indicator for precarious employment is proposed. First, an elaborate discussion of previous research into precarious employment and job insecurity is presented in order to bolster the content validity of the indicator. Second, the indicator itself is constructed using an approach grounded in crisp-set theory, and data from the Dutch “Organisatie Strategisch Arbeidsmartkonderzoek (OSA)” labour supply-panel. Finally, the indicator tested by assessing the proportion of precarious employees per educational level, type of contract, and immigrant status. The proposed hypothesis are all confirmed, which argues in favour of the construct validity of the indicator. Additionally, the results are assessed using a custom made robustness test, and results are deemed to be sufficiently robust. Finally, the incidence of precarious employment over time in the Dutch labour market is assessed. Results show a downward trend that seems to be caused by the decreasing precariousness of employees with permanent contracts. The results do fit the polarising labour-market thesis.

The presenter:

M. (Martin) Olsthoorn
Afdeling Sociologie en Antropologie
Kloveniersburgwal 48
1012 CX Amsterdam
Room: B.017
Tel: 0205252869

Click here for an overview of all lunch seminars from January – July 2012

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