The Politics of Temporary Work Deregulation in Europe: Solving the French Puzzle

My latest paper on the politics of temporary work regulation in Western Europe.

(Published online before print July 2)


Temporary work has expanded in the last three decades with adverse implications for inequalities. Because temporary workers are a constituency that is unlikely to impose political costs, governments often choose to reduce temporary work regulations. While most European countries have indeed implemented such reforms, France went in the opposite direction, despite having both rigid labor markets and high unemployment. My argument to solve this puzzle is that where replaceability is high, workers in permanent and temporary contracts have overlapping interests, and governments choose to regulate temporary work to protect permanent workers. In turn, replaceability is higher where permanent workers’ skills are general and wage coordination is low. Logistic regression analysis of the determinants of replaceability— and how this affects governments’ reforms of temporary work regulations—supports my argument. Process tracing of French reforms also confirm that the left has tightened temporary work regulations to compensate for the high replaceability.

Mixing apples with oranges? Partisanship and active labour market policies in Europe

New paper on the politics of labour market policies in Western Europe published in the February issue of the Journal of European Social Policy.

There are competing theoretical expectations and conflicting empirical results concerning the impact of partisanship on spending on active labour market policies (ALMPs). This paper argues that one should distinguish between different ALMPs. Employment incentives and rehabilitation programmes incentivize the unemployed to accept jobs. Direct job creation reduces the supply of labour by creating non-commercial jobs. Training schemes raise the human capital of the unemployed. Using regression analysis this paper shows that the positions of political parties towards these three types of ALMPs are different. Party preferences also depend on the welfare regime in which parties are located. In Scandinavia, left-wing parties support neither employment incentives nor direct job creation schemes. In continental and Liberal welfare regimes, left-wing parties oppose employment incentives and rehabilitation programmes to a lesser extent and they support direct job creation. There is no impact of partisanship on training. These results reconcile the previously contradictory findings concerning the impact of the Left on ALMPs.

Higher income earners are more likely to vote Republican

Contrary to the misconception that high income states being Democrats suggests higher income earners are not more likely to vote Republican, within a given State (whether led by Republicans or Democrats), one does indeed observe that the likelyhood of voting Republican increases with income.
If that is true, then income polarisation can reasonably be expected to lead to more political polarisation, which – all other things held constant, would provide a plausible explanation for the deadlocks that increasingly characterise Contemporary American Politics.

Representing Middle class interest

Jared Bernstein has a couple of Graphs that are worth a thousand words. The first graph displays the evolution of real median familly income  over the past two decades. The second plots real median income growth in two periods: from 1992 to 2000 and between 2002 and 2007. 
What this shows is that rule by the democratic party has been much more successful at advancing workers’ wages. So, it does make a difference who is in power and the Republicans have been either unwilling or unable to promote real income growth.

Mill on Conservatives

Taken from Brad Delong post on ‘The Heritage Filter: Does America Have a Future in Which There Are Smart Conservatives?’:
“John Stuart Mill famously wrote to John Pakington:
I never meant to say that the Conservatives are generally stupid. I meant to say that stupid people are generally Conservative. I believe that is so obviously and universally admitted a principle that I hardly think any gentleman will deny it.”

The dependent variable problem in quantitative studies of Active Labour Market Programmes: Uncovering hidden dynamics?

My new working paper in the series on the Reconciliation of Work and Welfare in Europe can be accessed here.


The question of what explains variation in expenditures on Active Labour Market Programs (ALMPs) has attracted significant scholarship in recent years. Significant insights have been gained with respect to the role of employers, unions and dual labour markets, openness, and partisanship. However, there remain significant disagreements with respects to key explanatory variables such the role of unions or the impact of partisanship.
Qualitative studies have shown that there are both good conceptual reasons as well as historical evidence that different ALMPs are driven by different dynamics. There is little reason to believe that vastly different programs such as training and employment subsidies are driven by similar structural, interest group or indeed partisan dynamics. The question is therefore whether different ALMPs have the same correlation with different key explanatory variables identified in the literature? Using regression analysis, this paper shows that the explanatory variables identified by the literature have different relation to distinct ALMPs. This refinement adds significant analytical value and shows that disagreements are at least partly due to a dependent variable problem of „over-aggregation‟.
To read more, see the website of the  here.