Wiemer Salverda spoke at the Joint Policy Conference Economic change, inequality ..

Wiemer Salverda spoke at the Joint Policy Conference Economic change, inequality and social inclusion in Europe, organised by the European Commission and the EQUALSOC Network of Excellence, in Brussels, 18 February 2009.

In his contribution Inequalities of Earnings and Low Pay he presented key results of the LoWER network, the Income distribution group of EQUALSOC, and the “Low-wage Work in Europe” research project of the Russell Sage Foundation (New York). The percentages of employees earning a low wage vary greatly across the European Union. Recently, they have increased very significantly in Germany, followed by in the Netherlands, to more than 20%. At the same time, Danish and French levels have remained low (10%) while US levels have been stable at a high level (25%). A higher/lower incidence of low pay does not necessarily lead to a more/less employment. Denmark has managed to keep its low-pay rate at a stable 10% with the help of a different structure of the economy where more better-paid jobs in (health) care combine with fewer low-paid jobs in retail trade, hotels and restaurants. The type of industrial relations seems to be an important factor for understanding the differences. Particularly, for Germany the trade-union membership of employees has declined, as has the employer-associations membership of firms. The coverage of employees by collective labour agreements has fallen as a result. There is no national minimum wage that can protect wages of employees no longer covered by such agreements. High union density in Denmark and a strong role of the national minimum wage in France respectively have prevented similar effects.

Other contributors to the conference were, e.g., Tony Atkinson (Oxford), Anthony Heath (Nuffield), Robert Erikson (SOFI Stockholm) and Sarah Voitchovsky (UC Dublin).

Click here for more information about the conference
Click here for the presentation of Wiemer Salverda

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