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

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - SECCOPA (The socio-economic consequences of temporary employment: A comparative panel data analysis)

Reporting period: 2019-10-01 to 2021-03-31

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 aims to provide new important insights into the multi-faceted consequences of temporary work. Instead of just looking at the career consequences of temporary jobs, the SECCOPA project offers a broader perspective by investigating also the consequences of temporary jobs for risks of income poverty and material deprivation as well as subjective well-being. Temporary jobs are compared to both alternatives of having a permanent job (“upward comparison”) and of being unemployed (“downward comparison”). Panel data are analyzed that track the same person over time, which provides a better understanding of the causal effects of temporary employment in a life course perspective. Addressing the issue of social inequality, different subgroups of workers are studied (e.g. differentiated by gender and education). Moreover, in terms of the principle of “linked lives”, the consequences for other family members next to the individual consequences are highlighted. The SECCOPA project performs this investigation in Western and Eastern European countries as well as Canada, the United States, South Korea, Japan and Australia. This international comparative perspective aims at a better understanding of how the institutional, structural and cultural context of the different states weakens or strengthens the consequences of temporary employment. Based on these insights, it is the objective of the SECCOPA project to develop policy recommendations and to disseminate project findings to various stakeholders.
In the first part of the project we developed an integrated, multidisciplinary, and multilevel model, which accounts for the micro-level (individuals), meso-level (family, households, firms) and macro-level (country-level institutions, structures and culture). In addition, based on the theoretical reflections, key concepts were defined and guidelines for measurement of variables for empirical analyses were developed. Following a common template, the institutional and structural context of the special target countries of the project (Germany, UK, Switzerland, South Korea, Japan, Australia, Canada, the United States) and the EU-28 countries was studied. Results show that conceptualizations in national scientific discourses, the incidence, and the regulations of temporary employment vary between societies. Moreover, national panel data sets and EU-SILC comparative panel data were prepared for data analyses.
Based on this preparatory work, empirical analyses were done and results were summarized in papers. We were successful in making already three publications in renowned SSCI-listed international journals. Results of the first article show a remarkable variation in the effects of fixed-term employment on well-being across countries. Multilevel analyses show that social cohesion on the country-level diminishes the individual-level well-being differences between fixed-term employees and permanent individuals but not between fixed-term employees and the unemployed. The second article shows that individuals who start their career in temporary employment and then transition to permanent jobs face long-term cumulative wage disadvantage. There is an increasing cumulative wage gap even after the transitions to permanent jobs take place, which shows that compared to individuals with standard careers, former temporary workers do not experience a compensating higher wage growth in their later careers. Results of the third article show that fixed-term re-employment increases partners’ well-being and that these effects are larger in case of re-employment by men. Transitions from fixed-term to permanent jobs do not substantially increase the well-being of partners with little differences by gender. Moreover, eight papers have already been submitted and are currently under review at SSCI-listed journals and several scientific paper submissions are in preparation.
In terms of dissemination, 29 scientific presentations of SECCOPA work were given at leading international conferences, workshops as well as invited talks in various countries (Germany, Greece, Japan, Hong Kong, Spain, Switzerland, Taiwan, The Netherlands, Vietnam) and online (due to the pandemic). Scientific collaboration with international researchers is ongoing. A project homepage (http://seccopa.de/) and a project Twitter account (https://twitter.com/seccopa_project) provide lively updates on the project.
The SECCOPA project is inspired by the insights from previous seminal studies on temporary employment and goes 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 work career, income poverty and material deprivation and subjective well-being both for individual workers and other family members (guided by the life course research principle of “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 reduce bias in the estimating of the consequences of 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),
(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.
It is expected that the SECCOPA project generates new findings following this innovative design. A significant impact on academic research via means of presentations at international conferences and workshops and publications in SSCI-listed academic journals is expected and results will be disseminated to various stakeholders. Results are also expected in terms of creating policy relevant findings and recommendations for the formulation and implementation of specific institutional reforms and policies that help improving the socio-economic situation of temporary workers.
Official SECCOPA Logo developed by team members