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The Economic and Labour Relations Review

Impact factor: 0.13 Print ISSN: 1035-3046 Publisher: Sage Publications

Subjects: Economics, Industrial Relations & Labor

Most recent papers:

  • Gender wage differences in Nigerian self and paid employment: Do marriage and children matter?
    Nwaka, I. D., Guven-Lisaniler, F., Tuna, G.
    The Economic and Labour Relations Review. November 14, 2016

    This article investigates gender differences in Nigeria, in the impact of marriage and children on location in the self or waged employment sector, and on income from work. Findings show that the pay structure varies across employment sectors – waged and self-employed – and that the determinants of employment sector vary by gender and family roles. Differences in human capital investment and geopolitical zones also need to be considered. The estimates in the study reveal that there is a marriage premium for both males and females in the waged labour market, but partially support Becker’s (1991) gender-based household specialisation model in terms of the relative incidence of self-employment. There is a wage penalty for married women with children in the paid-employment labour market, but motherhood is also negatively associated with income levels for self-employed women. We also find a fatherhood penalty for paid-employed men. Nevertheless, overall, the gender difference is higher in relatively less regulated self-employment compared to the more regulated paid employment labour market. Findings therefore offer some policy inputs but also suggest the need for further research into the causes of the gender pay gap in self- and paid employment, and thus into the overall wage gap in Nigeria that inhibits women’s labour market participation and welfare.

    November 14, 2016   doi: 10.1177/1035304616677655   open full text
  • Is it better to invest in hard or soft skills?
    Balcar, J.
    The Economic and Labour Relations Review. October 28, 2016

    Increasing awareness of the productive potential of soft skills has sparked a discussion of their systematic and purposeful development. However, education systems pay only limited attention to this topic in most countries and remain focused on the development of hard skills. Is this approach rational or inadequate? This article provides new evidence on different aspects of the wage returns to soft skills (as an approximation of their productivity), and thereby contributes significantly to the discussion of the role of educational institutions in their development. It provides evidence that soft skills are as productive as hard skills. Moreover, it suggests that the productivity of hard skills stems from their combination with soft skills. These conclusions do not correspond to the fact that the value of education is intermediated mainly by hard skills, resulting in unequal development of soft and hard skills in schools. While concluding that education systems should pay more attention to soft skills development, the analysis recognises that this attention should be differentiated according to employers’ needs, owing to substantial differences in the value of soft skills across economic sectors. It is also noteworthy that while significant gender differences in returns to hard skills were identified, wage returns to soft skills appear gender neutral.

    JEL Codes: J24, J31, J71

    October 28, 2016   doi: 10.1177/1035304616674613   open full text
  • Funding Australian economics research: Local benefits?
    Doraisami, A., Millmow, A.
    The Economic and Labour Relations Review. October 25, 2016

    In Australia there is a systematic ranking of academic research performance, with a major impact metric being based on publications in prestigious journals. Other countries like Britain with its Research Excellence Framework also have similar metrics. While much analysis and publicity is devoted to the rankings of the quality of research, there has been very little focus on how this ranked research has then gone on to make a public policy impact. In the case of the economics discipline, there has been little exploration of the relationship between publication in a high-ranked journal and contribution to an analysis of Australia’s most pressing economic issues. This article investigates the extent to which articles in the Diamond list of journals from 2001 to 2010 addressed Australian economic issues. Our results indicate that articles on current policy issues accounted for a very modest fraction of total Diamond list journal articles. One possible explanation for this finding, which is investigated further, is the correlation between an economics department’s Excellence in Research Australia ranking and the number of staff who obtained their doctorates from an overseas university. Such a correlation has implications for the status afforded to economics research with a specific national focus.

    October 25, 2016   doi: 10.1177/1035304616676161   open full text
  • Collective bargaining, wage dispersion and the economic cycle: Spanish evidence.
    Dominguez, J. F. C., Rodriguez Gutierrez, C.
    The Economic and Labour Relations Review. October 24, 2016

    This research analyses the effect of a ‘two-tier’ system of collective bargaining (firm bargaining and multi-employer bargaining levels) on wage dispersion in Spain. The effect of collective bargaining on the two main concepts that make up wages (the contractual or basic-bargained wage, and the wage cushion) are analysed during the last period of the upward cycle (2002–2006) and the beginning of the global financial crisis (2006–2010). The wage cushion is defined as the difference between the earned wage and the basic-bargained wage. The results show that workers covered by firm bargaining experienced greater wage dispersion than workers covered by multi-employer bargaining. On the other hand, wage dispersion for all workers decreased during the analysis period, mainly during the first stage of the current economic crisis, and particularly among workers covered by multi-employer bargaining. Both the decreasing relevance of the wage cushion in actual wage formation and its reduced dispersion make it possible to explain this wage compression.

    October 24, 2016   doi: 10.1177/1035304616675782   open full text
  • The part-time wage penalty: Does bargaining coverage outweigh regional differences in Spain?
    Ramos, R., Sanroma, E., Simon, H.
    The Economic and Labour Relations Review. July 21, 2016

    The use of part-time jobs is steadily increasing in most advanced economies. Previous literature has concluded that part-time workers suffer a wage penalty, but its magnitude varies across studies and countries. The part-time penalty is the otherwise unexplained element of the gap between full-time and part-time hourly earnings. One potential factor accounting for international differences in this penalty is the coverage of collective bargaining. This article outlines research examining wage differences between part-time and full-time male and female workers in Spain, a country with a very high level of coverage of collective agreements but very heterogeneous regional labour markets. Results are obtained using an econometric decomposition specifically adapted to matched employer–employee data. They show that intra-firm wage differentials for part- and full-time workers with the same characteristics are negligible. But results that are perhaps less expected are those based on the regional analysis – an unprecedented perspective compared with the previous literature. These results show that despite very significant differences in economies and labour markets, observed wage gaps between part-time and full-time workers in each Spanish region are also mainly explained by different endowments of individual, job and firm characteristics. Overall, our evidence highlights the over-riding role of wage setting mechanisms, specifically collective bargaining coverage, in minimising inter-regional differences in the wage penalty of part-time workers.

    July 21, 2016   doi: 10.1177/1035304616659984   open full text
  • Precarious work and precarious workers: Towards an improved conceptualisation.
    Campbell, I., Price, R.
    The Economic and Labour Relations Review. July 18, 2016

    Discussion of the implications of precarious work for individual workers remains hesitant and often confused. A clear conceptualisation would separate out five analytical levels: precariousness in employment, precarious work, precarious workers individually and as an emerging class, and precarity as a general condition of social life. To illustrate the need to avoid slippage between the concepts of precarious work and precarious workers, we present one ‘theory-relevant’ example – full-time secondary school students in Australia who hold part-time jobs in the retail sector. Their part-time jobs are indeed precarious but the negative effects on the student-workers are modest, both because participation in precarious work is limited (moderate weekly hours and intermittent work within the framework of a brief stage of the life course) and because many (though not all) of the associated risks are cushioned by structural forces such as access to alternative income sources and career paths. At the same time, however, a longitudinal perspective reveals that the same group of student-workers faces major risks in the future, as a result of increasingly insecure labour markets. Reflections on this example help to identify conceptual tools that can be applied to a wide range of other examples of precarious work.

    July 18, 2016   doi: 10.1177/1035304616652074   open full text
  • Precarious work and intrinsic job quality: Evidence from Finland, 1984-2013.
    Pyöriä, P., Ojala, S.
    The Economic and Labour Relations Review. July 14, 2016

    It is often argued that job insecurity and precarious work are on the rise. However, the evidence to back these arguments remains mixed and inconclusive. In this study, we define and measure precarious work in Finland using five variables that reflect both objective and subjective insecurity: atypical employment, actually experienced unemployment, the threat of dismissal or unemployment, poor chances of finding a new job, and low earnings. Results based on Statistics Finland’s Quality of Work Life Surveys from 1984 to 2013 indicate that, from a labour market or forms of employment perspective, the proportion of precarious wage earners has increased from 11% in 1984 to 13% in 2013. From a second perspective, however, focusing on changing working conditions, growing inequality and eroding social security mechanisms, we also analyse how a precarious labour market position is related to intrinsic job quality. Precarious workers experience decreased levels of skill and discretion, and they work in a less supportive environment than other employees.

    July 14, 2016   doi: 10.1177/1035304616659190   open full text
  • Youth unemployment in Italy and Russia: Aggregate trends and individual determinants.
    Marelli, E., Vakulenko, E.
    The Economic and Labour Relations Review. July 08, 2016

    Youth unemployment rates in most countries are considerably higher than total unemployment rates and increased significantly in many countries following the global financial crisis. Young people in long-term unemployment risk becoming a ‘lost generation’. We investigate individual and family characteristics predicting young people’s vulnerability to the scarring effects of long-term unemployment. After overviewing aggregate youth unemployment trends in several European countries, we focus on Russia and Italy – countries with contrasting structural and institutional conditions and exhibiting different macroeconomic trends – in order to determine whether, despite these differences, there were similar patterns in the relationship between individual and family characteristics and the of risk of unemployment and its adverse impacts. We use a Heckman probit model to estimate the unemployment risk of young people – compared to adults – during the period 2004–2011, before and after the global financial crisis. Despite many differences between the two countries, most of the explanatory variables acted in the same direction in each and so we compare the relative size of such effects. The policy significance of the findings is that personal and family characteristics are more amenable to modification than macroeconomic variables. Specific school-to-work interventions are needed to avoid creating a ‘lost generation’.

    July 08, 2016   doi: 10.1177/1035304616657959   open full text
  • Misusing our talent? Overeducation, overskilling and skill underutilisation among Spanish PhD graduates.
    Paolo, A. D., Mane, F.
    The Economic and Labour Relations Review. July 01, 2016

    The ‘knowledge economy’ is said to depend increasingly on capacities for innovation, knowledge-generation and complex problem-solving – capacities attributed to university graduates with research degrees. To what extent, however, is the labour market absorbing and fully utilising these capabilities? Drawing on data from a recent cohort of PhD graduates, we examine the correlates and consequences of qualification and skills mismatch. We show that job characteristics such as economic sector and main work activity play a fundamental and direct role in explaining the phenomenon of mismatch, experienced as overeducation and overskilling. Academic attributes operate mostly indirectly in explaining this mismatch, since their effect loses importance once we control for job-related characteristics. We detected a significant earnings penalty for those who are both overeducated and overskilled. Being mismatched reduces satisfaction with the job as a whole and with non-monetary aspects of the job, especially for those whose skills are underutilised. Overall, the problem of mismatch among PhD graduates is closely related to the demand-side constraints of the labour market. Increasing the number of adequate jobs and broadening the job skills that PhD students acquire during training should be explored as possible responses.

    July 01, 2016   doi: 10.1177/1035304616657479   open full text
  • Industry policy in Asias demographic giants: China, India and Indonesia compared.
    Barnes, T.
    The Economic and Labour Relations Review. June 28, 2016

    The experience of industry policy in the wider Asian region contrasts significantly with many of the neoliberal policy prescriptions prevalent in Australia today. Using the automotive industry as a comparative case study, this article compares industry policy in three demographic and geographic giants of the region: China, India and Indonesia. China’s dominant position has benefited from a highly ‘interventionist’ industry policy which places strict conditions on foreign carmakers in joint ventures. This policy has also influenced the emergence of a thriving domestic industry, with state-owned enterprises leading the way. While India has also emerged as a major auto producer, its industry policy has moved away from the joint venture model since the 1990s, with fully foreign-owned operations now playing a much bigger role. In contrast, Indonesia retains a version of the joint venture model while local industry is dominated by Japanese capital. The record of industry policy in these countries challenges the idea that more ‘liberal’ economic systems lead to stronger domestic industries or firms.

    June 28, 2016   doi: 10.1177/1035304616656562   open full text
  • Social capabilities-based flexicurity for a learning economy.
    Judzik, D., Khan, H. A., Spagnolo, L. T.
    The Economic and Labour Relations Review. June 27, 2016

    Mainstream economists argue that unemployment must be tackled with ‘flexibilisation’ or ‘labour market deregulation’. The public policy application has been the principle of ‘flexicurity’, with mixed labour market outcomes and limited success. Central contributions to theoretical and empirical economics writing on unemployment issues still espouse ‘flexibilisation’ as a general approach and warn about the detrimental effects of systematic deregulation under expectations of outcomes such as lower unemployment. Departing from a review of this literature, we take a step further from the ‘flexicurity’ prescription, to follow the capabilities approach of Sen and others, and develop a concept of social capabilities based flexicurity for a learning economy, arguing that labour market performance must be targeted in an approach that includes a strong commitment to social well-being.

    June 27, 2016   doi: 10.1177/1035304616652549   open full text
  • The youth unemployment challenge in Africa: What are the drivers?
    Baah-Boateng, W.
    The Economic and Labour Relations Review. May 11, 2016

    Youth unemployment remains a major political and socioeconomic challenge in Africa despite the recent strong growth performance of many African countries. The study undertakes an empirical assessment of the main sources of youth unemployment in Africa. Based on panel data of 41 African countries covering the period 2000–2010, the study finds a demographic youth bulge and poor economic growth from both supply and demand sides of the market to be key drivers of youth unemployment in Africa. Employment-to-population ratio as a measure of country’s job creation ability and vulnerable employment as a proxy for informality are observed to have had a decreasing effect on youth unemployment. The empirical findings also suggest higher youth employment rates among females than males and a higher concentration in urban than rural areas. Investment in the high labour absorption sectors of agriculture and manufacturing is advocated as job creation strategies, along with population control measures to slow the growing youth population in Africa. High growth in the low employment sectors of mining and extractive industries could serve as resource generating avenues to promote investment in education and skill training, along with infrastructure to facilitate growth in high labour absorption sectors.

    May 11, 2016   doi: 10.1177/1035304616645030   open full text
  • The impact mechanism of social networks on Chinese rural-urban migrant workers' behaviour and wages.
    Wang, C., Lao, H., Zhou, X.
    The Economic and Labour Relations Review. May 21, 2014

    Chinese domestic rural–urban migrant workers have played a substantial role in economic development since the late 1970s. This article makes an attempt to establish a two-period hiring model interpreting the impact mechanism of social networks on migrant workers’ wages. The findings indicate that the extension of social networks of both firms and workers facilitates a decrease in the information gap between them and improves extra common benefits to both.

    May 21, 2014   doi: 10.1177/1035304614534560   open full text
  • A theoretical framework for the analysis of the current global economic crisis: The financial market and the real economy.
    Duman, O. S.
    The Economic and Labour Relations Review. May 19, 2014

    This article argues that the current global economic crisis is an outcome of the excessive growth of the financial market over the real economy, and hence, of fictitious profits over real profits. In investigating the interrelation between the financial market and the real economy, it makes a comparative inquiry into two key assertions regarding economic crisis within Marxism: the tendency for the rate of profit to fall and overaccumulation of capital. Accepting the claim that economic crisis is inherent to capitalism, this article probes the role of countervailing tendencies in battling the tendency for the rate of profit to fall. While crisis is an outcome of both the extensive growth of fictitious profits and the tendency for the rate of profit to fall, the latter is identified as the fundamental reason for the current crisis. Labour market reforms that were implemented following the emergence of the economic crisis represent the resurgence of countervailing tendencies and are the most explicit evidence that the fundamental reason of the crisis resides in the real economy.

    May 19, 2014   doi: 10.1177/1035304614520669   open full text
  • Changes in Philippine labour relations policy: Convergence or divergence of productivity, flexibility and welfare?
    Sale, J. P., Sale, A. B.
    The Economic and Labour Relations Review. May 19, 2014

    In the first decade of the present century, a succession of changes to Philippine labour law and jurisprudence sought to contribute to productivity and social welfare by introducing greater industrial relations flexibility, based on collective bargaining and voluntary dispute settlement. The article examines whether these changes actually resulted in any shift from a rights-based system for resolving industrial disputation to a system based on workplace-level interest-based negotiation, and whether they were accompanied either by higher labour productivity or by improved social welfare. The analysis draws on a conceptual framework that identifies coherent national labour regulation systems as being based on a convergence of three institutional approaches – to the operation of labour markets, of labour relations and of social security. Broadly, such labour regulation systems can be classified as either civil law or common law based. The Philippine labour regulation system is shown to have a hybrid basis, whose origins are briefly traced by identifying the legacy of the colonial and post-colonial phases, the martial law era and the restoration of democracy in 1986. Whereas Australia, another hybrid system, appears to have achieved some coherence in changes to the regulation of industrial relations, labour markets and social welfare, in the Philippines, such changes have not converged. In the 1990s, efforts to mitigate the traditional legalistic and adversarial character of industrial relations through liberalisation of restrictions on the right to organise were cross-cut by the effects of the growing labour market flexibility that resulted from integration into the global economy. Legal changes between 1999 and 2011 have not fostered voluntary self-organisation of distributive bargaining at enterprise level. Union membership, collective bargaining coverage and numbers of workers involved in notified or actual industrial action have declined, while reliance on compulsory arbitration and monetary compensation claims has remained high. Labour productivity has not improved. Within the context of globalisation, the labour market is increasingly characterised by numerical flexibility and a prevalence of small enterprises. High unemployment levels and a large informal sector indicate divergence between the systems for regulating labour and welfare.

    May 19, 2014   doi: 10.1177/1035304614537173   open full text
  • Investigation and prosecution following workplace fatalities: Responding to the needs of families.
    Matthews, L. R., Fitzpatrick, S. J., Bohle, P., Quinlan, M.
    The Economic and Labour Relations Review. May 14, 2014

    Every year, there are over 200 traumatic deaths at work in Australia. A government safety inspector usually investigates each incident. The investigation may lead to prosecution of the employer or another party deemed to have breached relevant legislation. However, little systematic research has examined the needs and interests of grieving families in this process. Drawing on interviews with 48 representatives of institutions that deal with deaths at work (including regulators, unions, employers, police and coronial officers), this article examines how they view the problems and experiences of families. Notwithstanding some recent improvements, findings indicate ongoing shortcomings in meeting the needs of families regarding information provision, involvement and securing justice.

    May 14, 2014   doi: 10.1177/1035304614534350   open full text
  • Struggling on the Newstart unemployment benefit in Australia: The experience of a neoliberal form of employment assistance.
    Morris, A., Wilson, S.
    The Economic and Labour Relations Review. May 12, 2014

    The low level of the Newstart (unemployment benefit) payment has become a major source of concern about Australia’s willingness and ability to protect unemployed Australians from poverty. Despite this disquiet, there has been little scholarly examination of the implications of living on Newstart. In this article, through the use of a survey and in-depth interviews, we examine features of everyday life for Newstart recipients in the Sydney area, experiences that reveal the scarring potential of low benefits. The article illustrates that for a majority of interview participants, the most basic items were difficult to purchase and many of the interviewees were living in inadequate and even unsafe situations owing to an inability to afford satisfactory accommodation. For some, their lack of disposable income had severe health implications. Social isolation was a common phenomenon, and many of the interviewees found that the low payment made finding employment a lot more challenging.

    May 12, 2014   doi: 10.1177/1035304614533462   open full text
  • Work autonomy, work pressure, and job satisfaction: An analysis of European Union countries.
    Lopes, H., Lagoa, S., Calapez, T.
    The Economic and Labour Relations Review. May 12, 2014

    Based on European Working Conditions Survey (EWCS) micro-data, we show that, on average, work autonomy has declined and work pressure has increased in most European Union countries since 1995. Since such evolution is substantially detrimental for workers, we examine whether workers of varied skill levels in different countries have been equally impacted. Descriptive analysis shows that low-skill clerical workers are the most affected and that Scandinavian countries fare better. Econometric results show that the decline in job satisfaction is due mainly to the increase in work pressure—which might be reaching a limit for high-skill workers—and that job satisfaction is most affected by an increase in work pressure when this is not accompanied by greater work autonomy.

    May 12, 2014   doi: 10.1177/1035304614533868   open full text
  • Contracting out publicly funded vocational education: A transaction cost critique.
    Toner, P.
    The Economic and Labour Relations Review. May 09, 2014

    Contracting out publicly funded vocational education and training (VET) in Australia to private providers has been accompanied by persistent concern at decline in the quality of training. Using transaction cost economics, this outcome is ascribed to the characteristics of publicly funded VET as a commodity and the conditions under which it is privately produced and consumed. The article concludes that, in general, publicly funded VET does not meet the minimum conditions for efficient contracting out. The economic and social consequences of inadequate quality VET provision are potentially severe.

    May 09, 2014   doi: 10.1177/1035304614533624   open full text
  • Marketisation and the dual welfare state: Neoliberalism and inequality in Australia.
    Spies-Butcher, B.
    The Economic and Labour Relations Review. April 22, 2014

    Australian social policy has seen apparently contradictory developments over the period of economic restructuring. Social spending has increased based on a highly redistributive model while inequality has grown. This article explores the relationship between Australia’s experience of economic restructuring and the political dynamics of an emerging ‘dual welfare state’. Importantly, the article argues that Australian reformers did not reject the state per se, nor egalitarianism as an objective. Instead, reform sought to combine greater competition with compensation, generating larger inequalities in market incomes alongside growing social spending. The article explores how Labor combined neoclassical ideas about competition with a commitment to a ‘small state’ version of social democracy. This did moderate inequalities through the period of restructuring, but it also altered the dynamics of political contestation. The article provides two typologies to understand this political dynamic, arguing forms of marketisation opened the door to a political contest over the nature, rather than the extent, of public provision, while the model of targeting reinforced paternalist tendencies inherent in neoliberal reform.

    April 22, 2014   doi: 10.1177/1035304614530076   open full text
  • Mixed-methods research: What's in it for economists?
    Jefferson, T., Austen, S., Sharp, R., Ong, R., Lewin, G., Adams, V.
    The Economic and Labour Relations Review. April 22, 2014

    Empirical studies in economics traditionally use a limited range of methods, usually based on particular types of regression analysis. Increasingly, sophisticated regression techniques require the availability of appropriate data sets, often longitudinal and typically collected at a national level. This raises challenges for researchers seeking to investigate issues requiring data that are not typically included in regular large-scale data. It also raises questions of the adequacy of relying mainly or solely on regression analysis for investigating key issues of economic theory and policy. One way of addressing these issues is to employ a mixed-methods research framework to investigate important research questions. In this article, we provide an example of applying a mixed-methods design to investigate the employment decisions of mature age women working in the aged care sector. We outline the use of a coherent and robust framework to allow the integrated collection and analysis of quantitative and qualitative data. Drawing on particular examples from our analysis, we show how a mixed-methods approach facilitates richer insights, more finely grained understandings of causal relationships and identification of emergent issues. We conclude that mixed-methods research has the capacity to provide surprises and generate new insights through detailed exploratory data analysis.

    April 22, 2014   doi: 10.1177/1035304614530819   open full text