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The socio-economic consequences of temporary employment: A comparative panel data analysis

Periodic Reporting for period 4 - SECCOPA (The socio-economic consequences of temporary employment: A comparative panel data analysis)

Reporting period: 2022-10-01 to 2023-03-31

Temporary employment has become widespread in industrialized nations. In public and scientific debates, many concerns have been raised about the negative consequences of temporary employment for individual workers, their families and the society. However, there are also proponents of temporary employment who highlight the possibility of bringing unemployed people successfully back to work via temporary jobs. Against this background, the SECCOPA project provided new important insights into the multi-faceted consequences of temporary work for the employment and wage trajectories, wealth, income poverty, intergenerational transfers, subjective well-being for individual workers and other household members. The empirical investigation was performed for European countries as well as Canada, the United States, South Korea, Japan and Australia. The key conclusions of the action are:
(1) The socio-economic consequences are multifold, which underlines the importance of a holistic perspective. Temporary job tend to have negative effects compared to permanent jobs but positive effects when being compared to unemployment.
(2) Both temporary employment and the socio-economic outcomes must be studied in a dynamic perspective.
(3) When studying the socio-economic consequences it is important to disentangle the causal effects from any non-causal associations in order to understand the real consequences.
(4) The socio-economic consequences vary across subgroups of workers and the type of temporary employment.
(5) Temporary employment can also affect other household members and the socio-economic consequences of temporary employment can be intensified or mitigated by the household context.
(6) A worldwide international perspective is needed as there are both cross-country similarities and differences in the socio-economic consequences. Furthermore, the structural and institutional context mitigates or amplifies the socio-economic consequences of temporary employment.
Results of this innovative research were published in 11 articles in leading international SSCI-listed academic journals (in addition four articles are still under review). We succeeded in disseminating and communicating our research findings in 65 contributions to international conferences and workshops. We engaged in collaborations with leading scholars in the field by organizing two workshops with other ERC projects with similar research topics, by making several longer-time research visits (e.g. in Australia, Italy and Japan) and by co-authoring six out of 11 journal publications with scholars who are based in Australia, Germany, Japan, Korea, Sweden, and the U.S. Two PhD thesis and one MA thesis emerged from the project and were successfully defended during the lifetime of the project. A third PhD thesis is almost completed and will be defended in summer 2023. Our project homepage and Twitter account have continued providing lively updates on the project.
The project produced the following key findings, structured along the six main objectives of the project:
(1) We found effects on employment and wage trajectories, wealth, income poverty, intergenerational transfers and subjective well-being. Temporary job tend to have negative effects compared to permanent jobs but positive effects when being compared to unemployment.
(2) We documented a variety of temporary employment sequences and transition events, which varied also in their socio-economic consequences. Our dynamic and life course studies revealed that socio-economic consequences do not only show up in the short run but prevail in the medium and long run over many years, even after a successful transition of a temporary worker to a permanent job position.
(3) Several project publications advanced the methodological research in the field of temporary employment and showed that a substantial part of the association between temporary employment and outcomes in different socio-economic fields are due to selection into temporary employment based on observed and unobserved individual characteristics. However, even accounting for this selection, temporary employment still shows substantial consequences.
(4) The socio-economic consequences of temporary employment vary across subgroups of workers, with stronger disadvantages for otherwise advantaged groups The consequences also depend on the type of temporary employment. Next to different types of sequences of temporary employment and transitions, results significantly varied across different types of temporary contract and other forms of non-standard work (such as part-time work or informal work).
(5) The socio-economic consequences of temporary employment should be also be studied in a household perspective. Our results highlight that temporary employment can affect also other household members and that the consequences of temporary employment can be intensified or mitigated by the household context.
(6) Various project publications took a cross-country comparative perspective and revealed cross-country differences but also similarities. Moreover, it was shown that the structural and institutional context, such as the welfare regime, labor market regulation and dualization or social cohesion, mitigates or amplifies the socio-economic consequences of temporary employment.
The SECCOPA project went beyond the state-of-the-art by
(1) a comprehensive evaluation of the multi-faceted consequences of temporary employment in terms consequences for the employment and wage trajectories, wealth, income poverty, intergenerational transfers, subjective well-being for individual workers and other household members (“linked lives”) as well as various subgroups of persons (addressing the issue of social inequality),
(2) overcoming the limitations of previous studies by integrating the “upward comparison” (to permanent employment) and the “downward comparison” (to unemployment) in order to draw a complete picture on the consequences of temporary employment,
(3) using panel data to apply innovative methods of modern causal analysis to address selection into temporary employment,
(4) using panel data to measure the consequences of temporary employment in a dynamic perspective (i.e. the short-, medium and long-run) but also capturing the dynamics of temporary employment itself (in terms of employment sequences and transitions),
(5) broadening the international comparative perspective by implementing a comparative design that goes beyond Europe (including the liberal welfare states of the US, Canada, Australia, Japan and Korea) in order to capture a broader variety of institutional, structural and cultural variation in economically advanced societies around the world.
Official SECCOPA Logo developed by team members