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The tsunamis of educational attainment and part-time employment, and the change of the labour force 1960–2010: what can be learned about self-reinforcing labour-market inequality from the case of the Netherlands, in international comparison?

Wiemer Salverda

No 16/04, ImPRovE Working Papers from Herman Deleeck Centre for Social Policy, University of Antwerp

Abstract: This paper argues that the sharp growth of educational attainment has won Tinbergen’s race as the qualification structure of employment lags increasingly behind, with a large and increasing underutilisation of individual attainment on the job as a result. With its strong gender dimension this has fostered the demise of the single-earner model of society to the advantage of dual-earner households. That shift has gone together with a strong expansion of part-time employment, albeit at different speeds internationally. In several countries this part-time growth is stimulated also by the combination of employment participation with the rapidly growing educational participation that underlies the growth in educational attainment. Taken together this has resulted in a steep uphill battle for the less educated when they try to secure jobs that allow making a living and sustaining a career in the labour market. This group faces strong competition from better-educated additional earners who are a member of dual-earner households, which often have an income found higher up the household income distribution. This institutes a self-reinforcing mechanism of income and labour-market inequalities. High-income households compete with low-income households for the same low-skill and low-paid jobs, and they do so frequently on a part-time basis that contributes to the fragmentation of those jobs. This process has established a job’s working time as an increasingly important vector of labour-market inequalities. In the paper the argument is first developed for the Netherlands because the country offers a special statistical classification of occupations (1960-2010) that directly links the occupational levels to levels of educational attainment. This case study is complemented with an international comparison using the ELFS and extending to incomes and earnings with the help of SILC. It shows the presence of similar effects found for the Netherlands for Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Sweden and the UK.

Keywords: Educational attainment; Occupational structure; Underutilisation; Bumping down; Crowding out of low educated; Female employment; Part-time jobs; Elementary jobs; Household earnings; Household income distribution; Paid and domestic work; Paid work and educational participation. (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: D31 D63 I24 J11 J16 J21 J22 J23 J24 O15 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2016-02
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-edu and nep-lma
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