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Flexicurity in the European Union: flexibility for outsiders, security for insiders


  • Van Vliet, Olaf
  • Nijboer, Henk


Flexicurity is at the heart of European policy debates. Its aim is to overcome the tensions between labour market flexibility on the one hand, and the provision of social security for workers on the other hand. To date, there is little insight into whether flexicurity policies have been adopted across the European Union. Therefore, the aim of this paper is to analyse to what extent labour market policies have been reformed along the lines of the flexicurity concept across 18 European countries over the period 1985-2008. Focusing on the main axes of the flexicurity concept, new datasets are used to examine changes in employment protection legislation, unemployment benefits and active labour market policies. Data on the strictness of employment regulation indicate that reforms have been influenced by labour market insiders, since the level of flexibility has been increased more for temporary employment, the labour market outsiders, than for regular employment, the insiders. Although gross unemployment replacement rates suggest that unemployment benefits have become more generous, net replacement rates indicate that the level of income security from benefits actually has been decreased. Moreover, data illustrate that larger shares of European labour forces have temporary contracts. As such, the gap between insiders and outsiders on the labour market has been increased. This development is contrary to the goals of the European Commission.

Suggested Citation

  • Van Vliet, Olaf & Nijboer, Henk, 2012. "Flexicurity in the European Union: flexibility for outsiders, security for insiders," MPRA Paper 37012, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  • Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:37012

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Stelios Gialis & Michael Taylor, 2016. "A Regional Account of Flexibilization Across the EU: The ‘Flexible Contractual Arrangements’ Composite Index and the Impact of Recession," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 128(3), pages 1121-1146, September.
    2. Chadi, Adrian & Hetschko, Clemens, 2013. "Flexibilisation without hesitation? Temporary contracts and workers' satisfaction," Discussion Papers 2013/3, Free University Berlin, School of Business & Economics.

    More about this item


    Flexicurity; insider-outsider theory; labour market policy; welfare state; political economy;

    JEL classification:

    • J08 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - General - - - Labor Economics Policies
    • J58 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Labor-Management Relations, Trade Unions, and Collective Bargaining - - - Public Policy
    • H53 - Public Economics - - National Government Expenditures and Related Policies - - - Government Expenditures and Welfare Programs

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