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Involuntary part-time employment: perspectives from two European labour markets


  • Michail Veliziotis
  • Manos Matsaganis
  • Alexandros Karakitsios


Part-time employment in Europe has continued to grow faster than overall employment during the Great Recession and its aftermath. But as part-time work becomes more prevalent, so does involuntary part-time – at least in most countries. In this paper we focus on Greece and the UK, two European labour markets characterised by different institutions, but also a common trend of rising involuntary part-time (from different levels). We attempt to detect determinants and/or correlates of involuntary part-time, and changes over time. We analyse Labour Force Survey data for 2008 and 2013. We find that the UK labour market appears to be more successful in aligning workers’ preferences with employers’ demand for part-time work. However, as the economic downturn has made full-time jobs scarcer, involuntary part-time work has risen. Moreover, significant gaps in pay and job quality between voluntary and involuntary part-timers persist. In the case of Greece, involuntary part-time was already very high in 2008, in spite of the fact that pay differentials were relatively small, which suggests that part-time jobs were widely viewed by workers as sub-optimal. Under the impact of the recession and the austerity, the Greek labour market has become more flexible but also more insecure. As pay differentials have risen, and non-standard work has been made more precarious, part-time jobs have become even less attractive, so involuntary part-time has grown further still. We conclude that while the structure of the economy and the business cycle explain some of the differences between the two countries and over time, institutional factors and the quality of part-time jobs on offer are of great importance in shaping workers’ attitudes. We suggest that future research should focus on the interaction between shocks and institutions.

Suggested Citation

  • Michail Veliziotis & Manos Matsaganis & Alexandros Karakitsios, 2015. "Involuntary part-time employment: perspectives from two European labour markets," ImPRovE Working Papers 15/02, Herman Deleeck Centre for Social Policy, University of Antwerp.
  • Handle: RePEc:hdl:improv:1502

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Steffen Otterbach, 2010. "Mismatches Between Actual and Preferred Work Time: Empirical Evidence of Hours Constraints in 21 Countries," Journal of Consumer Policy, Springer, vol. 33(2), pages 143-161, June.
    2. Garry F. Barrett & Denise J. Doiron, 2001. "Working part time: by choice or by constraint," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 34(4), pages 1042-1065, November.
    3. Surhan Cam, 2012. "Involuntary part-time workers in Britain: evidence from the labour force survey," Industrial Relations Journal, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 43(3), pages 242-259, May.
    4. Olivier Blanchard, 2006. "European unemployment: the evolution of facts and ideas," Economic Policy, CEPR;CES;MSH, vol. 21(45), pages 5-59, January.
    5. Leslie S. Stratton, 1996. "Are “Involuntary†Part-Time Workers Indeed Involuntary?," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 49(3), pages 522-536, April.
    6. Buddelmeyer, Hielke & Mourre, Gilles & Ward-Warmedinger, Melanie, 2008. "Why do Europeans work part-time? A cross-country panel analysis," Working Paper Series 872, European Central Bank.
    7. Tomaz Cajner & Dennis Mawhirter & Christopher J. Nekarda & David Ratner, 2014. "Why is Involuntary Part-Time Work Elevated?," FEDS Notes 2014-04-14, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
    8. Manos Matsaganis, 2011. "Social protection of non-standard work in Greece," DEOS Working Papers 1107, Athens University of Economics and Business.
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    Cited by:

    1. Jeroen Horemans & Ive Marx & Brian Nolan, 2016. "Hanging in, but only just: part-time employment and in-work poverty throughout the crisis," IZA Journal of European Labor Studies, Springer;Forschungsinstitut zur Zukunft der Arbeit GmbH (IZA), vol. 5(1), pages 1-19, December.
    2. Nadia Steiber & Barbara Haas, 2015. "Overworked or Underemployed? Actual and Preferred Household Employment Patterns in the Context of the Economic Crisis," VID Working Papers 1507, Vienna Institute of Demography (VID) of the Austrian Academy of Sciences in Vienna.
    3. Alexandros Karakitsios & Manos Matsaganis, 2018. "Minimum Wage Effects on Poverty and Inequality," DEOS Working Papers 1801, Athens University of Economics and Business.

    More about this item


    Part-time work; involuntary part-time; job quality; Greece; UK; economic crisis;

    JEL classification:

    • J21 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Labor Force and Employment, Size, and Structure
    • J41 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Particular Labor Markets - - - Labor Contracts
    • J80 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Labor Standards - - - General

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