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Research Programme

Comparative Analyses on Youth Labour Market Integration in CEE countries in Comparison to Western European Countries Using Labour Force Survey Data (Journal and Book Chapter Publications)

Given the substantial structural and institutional dynamics observed in CEE countries in the course of economic and political transformations, the analyses in the second stage of the project aimed at assessing the consequences of these changes on the linkage between education and the labour market. For the analyses, we drew on our knowledge from our handbook “Europe Enlarged” as well as large-scale labour force surveys, which are the best source of data that is comparable and representative across time and countries. Thereby, we could elucidate variation across time and between countries in crucial labour market processes, and how these processes respond to structural and institutional changes. Altogether, as the following brief summaries of our analyses show, there are substantial differences between Western and Central and Eastern Europe, as well as substantial heterogeneity among the CEE countries themselves. Apart from substantive research, we also engaged in a collaborative effort to evaluate the often used International Standard Classification of Educational Degrees (ISCED-97).

School-to-work transitions and youth unemployment: Clusters of European countries

Empirical cluster analysis using European Union Labour Force Survey (EULFS) data suggests considerable heterogeneity in employment entry patterns across CEE countries in the late 1990s. In Poland the situation for school leavers appears to be the worst among CEE countries and resembles the situation in Southern European countries with regard to the insider-outsider cleavage between experienced workers and young school leavers. Vocational qualifications do not seem to particularly protect young Poles from employment exclusion. Slovenia differs remarkably from the rest of CEE countries due to its stronger labour market legislation, higher trade union presence, and more effective programs of vocational training in the form of apprenticeships. Labour market entry patterns resemble more the patterns observed in Western countries than in other CEE countries. In Hungary, the Baltic countries, the Czech republic and Slovakia youth employment patterns combine elements present in the UK as far as large educational differentials in outcomes and low representation of precarious forms of employment are concerned, as well as their own peculiarities. Among the latter are medium to high levels of long-term unemployment and smaller differences between job entrants and more experienced workers in unemployment incidence.

Risk Patterns of Temporary Employment in the Enlarged Europe: The Role of Labour Market Institutions

Temporary employment forms have been introduced in CEE societies as an instrument of labour market flexibilization in times of rising unemployment and uncertainty through increased international competition and globalisation. However, very little is known about the nature of temporary employment in CEE countries. To fill this research gap, we used data from the European Union Labour Force Survey (EULFS) for a comparative analysis of individual and institutional determinants of temporary employment contracts in the enlarged Europe. We find that the individual determinants of temporary employment are similar in both parts of Europe, but vary in strength between countries. Particularly youth are affected by temporary work. Neither employment protection of regular contracts nor its interaction with the level of employment protection of temporary contracts affects young people's relative risk. Instead, we find a positive association between collective bargaining coverage as a measure of insider-outsider cleavages and the relative temporary employment risk of young persons. These results remain robust even after controlling for macro-structural conditions, such as unemployment rate and business uncertainty.

Evaluation of the International Standard Classification of Education (ISCED-97)

With the help of our CEE partners, we could also contribute to the methodological assessment of the International Standard Classification of Educational Degrees (ISCED-97) in a larger network comprising scholars from both Western and Eastern Europe. ISCED-97 is the standard classification used in much international research and by public agencies to compare educational degrees across countries. It constitutes the standard used by Eurostat, the OECD and most cross-national European surveys like the European Union Labour Force Survey, PISA or the European Social Survey. Our work has uncovered certain problems in the implementation of this classification, which can potentially impair or bias comparative research. The project greatly benefited from this methodological work, because we became more sensitive to and avoided certain problematic issues in comparing educational degrees across countries.