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Temporary work and neoliberal government policy: evidence from British Columbia, Canada

Fiona MacPhail and Paul Bowles

International Review of Applied Economics, 2008, vol. 22, issue 5, 545-563

Abstract: We examine the impact of government policy on the incidence of temporary work by analysing the case of British Columbia (BC), Canada. The analysis is based upon the Canadian Labour Force Survey 1997-2004; temporary work is defined as work that is not expected to last for more than 6 months and includes seasonal, fixed-term, casual, and temporary help agency work. A case study of BC provides a valuable opportunity to assess the impacts of neoliberal government policy, designed to increase labour market flexibility, on the extent of temporary work because we are able to compare labour market trends in BC both before and after the reforms introduced in 2001 and to compare BC with other provinces in Canada that were not subject to such large changes in their policy environments. We find that the shift to neoliberal policies in BC led to significant increases in the likelihood of workers finding themselves in temporary employment. We also find that the likelihood of being a temporary worker in BC in the post-policy change period increases relative to all other provinces over the same period. Taken together, these results indicate that government policy is a key determinant of the level of temporary work. As such, the level of temporary work should be seen as a policy-sensitive variable, rather than as a phenomenon determined solely by the exogenous forces of globalization and technological change.

Keywords: temporary work; flexibility; labour markets; neoliberalism; government policy (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2008
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DOI: 10.1080/02692170802287524

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