Michael Gebel, Johannes Giesecke
Labour Market Flexibility and Inequality: The Changing Risk Patterns of Temporary Employment in Germany

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Mannheimer Zentrum für Europäische Sozialforschung: Arbeitspapiere; 112
ISSN: 1437-8574

While previous research on temporary employment has shown that certain labour market groups are more likely than others to enter this kind of inferior employment, there has been only little research on the question to what extent these allocation patterns have changed over time. Against the background of pervasive structural and institutional changes that affected the German labour market since the beginning of the 1990s there are reasons to believe that allocation patterns have changed as well. However, on a theoretical level there are different views regarding the quality of these changes. Whereas some scholars argue that social inequality is enhanced along the existing lines of social division, others maintain that risks are less and less socially structured. To evaluate this question empirically we use data from the German Mikrozensus for the period from 1989 to 2005. The analysis reveals that, first, on the aggregate level the overall share of temporary employment has only slightly increased during that time period. Second, as indicated by the results, particularly those individuals belonging to groups that already have had a weak labour market position were increasingly allocated to temporary jobs. Third, contrary to the thesis of a de-structuration of social inequality, the findings reveal no decline in the overall importance of “classical” determinants of temporary employment relationships.