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Low-wage Jobs: A Means for Employment Integration of the Unemployed? Evidence from Administrative Data in Germany and Austria

Author

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  • Carola Grün

    (University of Göttingen)

  • Helmut Mahringer

    (Austrian Institute of Economic Research)

  • Thomas Rhein

    (Institute for Employment Research)

Abstract

Does the low wage sector serve as a stepping stone towards integration into better-paid jobs or at least towards integration of jobless people into employment? There is evidence for a "low-wage trap" and for a high risk of low-wage earners to get unemployed, but this may also be due to sorting effects and not to low-wage work itself. The present paper contributes to this debate analysing employment spells of male low-wage earners who had been unemployed before, with methods of continuous-time event history analysis. The present data have been retrieved from two large administrative micro-data sources: the IAB employment sample (IABS) for Germany, and a combination of social security data from the Austrian Social Insurance Institutions. Two possible exits of low-wage spells are focused on: exits to higher-paid employment (upward mobility vs. persistence), and exits to unemployment ("no pay-low pay cycle"). The results show shorter spell durations in Austria, pointing to a considerably higher fluctuation and labour turnover in the Austrian labour market. The influence of individual and firm-related characteristics and of the individual unemployment history on exit probabilities and the role of duration dependence in both countries is investigated. With regard to upward mobility, no convincing evidence for "true" duration dependence is found, at least for Germany. As to the risk of falling back into unemployment, the results suggest that even low-wage workers can accumulate job-related human capital favouring employment integration over time.

Suggested Citation

  • Carola Grün & Helmut Mahringer & Thomas Rhein, 2010. "Low-wage Jobs: A Means for Employment Integration of the Unemployed? Evidence from Administrative Data in Germany and Austria," WIFO Working Papers 383, WIFO.
  • Handle: RePEc:wfo:wpaper:y:2010:i:383
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Lorenzo Cappellari & Stephen P. Jenkins, 2004. "Modelling low income transitions," Journal of Applied Econometrics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 19(5), pages 593-610.
    2. Lorenzo Cappellari & Stephen P. Jenkins, 2008. "Estimating low pay transition probabilities accounting for endogenous selection mechanisms," Journal of the Royal Statistical Society Series C, Royal Statistical Society, vol. 57(2), pages 165-186.
    3. Boockmann, Bernhard & Steffes, Susanne, 2005. "Individual and Plant-level Determinants of Job Durations in Germany," ZEW Discussion Papers 05-89, ZEW - Zentrum für Europäische Wirtschaftsforschung / Center for European Economic Research.
    4. Uhlendorff, Arne, 2006. "From No Pay to Low Pay and Back Again? A Multi-State Model of Low Pay Dynamics," IZA Discussion Papers 2482, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    5. Alexandra Spitz-Oener, 2006. "Technical Change, Job Tasks, and Rising Educational Demands: Looking outside the Wage Structure," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 24(2), pages 235-270, April.
    6. Lorenzo Cappellari, 1999. "Low-Wage Mobility in the Italian Labour Market," The Warwick Economics Research Paper Series (TWERPS) 531, University of Warwick, Department of Economics.
    7. Heckman, James J, 1991. "Identifying the Hand of the Past: Distinguishing State Dependence from Heterogeneity," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 81(2), pages 75-79, May.
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    Keywords

    unemployment dynamics; low wage; duration analysis;

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