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Olaf van Vliet and Lars van Doorn receive 430,000 euros grant for research

Researchers from the Department of Economics and the Institute of Public Administration – Olaf van Vliet and Lars van Doorn – have been awarded a grant of 430,000 euros from Instituut Gak to analyse the flexibilisation of the labour market and its implications for social policy.

Advanced economies are experiencing a rapid growth in the number of people working in non-standard forms of employment, including flexible, temporary and self-employed work. This trend is boosted through the upsurge of the gig economy, with companies like Deliveroo, PicNic and Uber as examples. Moreover, the rise of non-standard employment is particularly concentrated in low-skilled jobs. Globalisation and automation have simultaneously resulted in job polarisation: a hollowing out of middle-skilled jobs. Hence, middle-skilled workers are increasingly becoming dependent on low-skilled jobs. Therefore, the question arises whether the associated increase in competition for low-skilled jobs can account for the rise in non-standard employment. Whilst globalisation, automation and the gig economy are worldwide trends, the growth in non-standard employment varies per country. Against this background, this study will conduct an empirical analysis of the interplay between globalisation, automation and the flexibilisation of the labour market, and the extent to which institutions mediate in this relationship.

From a policy perspective, the question arises whether current labour market regulations and social policies are suited to the challenges associated with the flexibilisation of labour markets. Workers in non-standard forms of employment tend to have lower levels of employment protection and less access to social programmes. Additionally, they receive substantially less training which affects their career prospects in an increasingly globalised and automated world. This project analyses to what extent this results in increasing wage differentials between highly qualified and poorly qualified workers, and a growing number of working poor.

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