Hans-Peter Blossfeld, Sandra Buchholz, Dirk Hofäcker, Sonia Bertolini
Selective Flexibilization and Deregulation of the Labor Market. The Answer of Continental and Southern Europe

Stato e Mercato, 2012: 96, pp. 363-390
ISSN: 0392-9701

In this article, we reconstruct the institutional responses of different European welfare states and their implications for individual life course and employment trajectories and the related nation-specific patterns of social inequality. In doing so, our article brings together the combined evidence from various international comparative research projects carried out over the past 15 years. Our assumption is that there exist typical regime-specific strategic patterns in institutional reactions to globalization that imply specific life course consequences. By means of cross-national comparison, we aim to elaborate whether there is a specific institutional strategy, common to Continental and Southern European countries, to deal with rising flexibility demands which gives rise to specific patterns of flexible work forms and structures of social inequality. Furthermore, we argue that the repercussions of rising flexibilization have not remained limited to the employment sphere but also strongly impacted on fertility and family formation in these traditionally rather family-oriented welfare states. Our international comparative research results show, in fact, that fertility decline and postponement of family formation can be considered as results of the selective labor market deregulation in Southern and Continental Europe.