Article

Are intermediate jobs disappearing? The myth of labour polarisation in Europe

Daniel Oesch, University of Lausanne, Switzerland; Giorgio Piccitto, Bocconi University, Milan, Italy

There is no evidence of labour polarisation in Europe. Unlike what has occurred in the United States, in Germany, the United Kingdom, Spain and Sweden, there has been an increase in jobs considered “good” – in other words, those with salaries above average, high education demands and social prestige – and “bad” jobs have declined.
Key points
  • 1
       In the European countries considered, employment of greater quality grew by 10 percentage points from the start of the 1990s, when it represented 20% of employment, until 2015, when it reached 30%.
  • 2
       Occupational change in Spain has been more spectacular. In barely 25 years, employment of greater quality has almost doubled, growing by 15 percentage points when salaries, education level and prestige are taken into account.
  • 3
       The research analyses how employment has changed in Germany, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom, which exemplify the current variety and group together half of the continent’s population.
Good occupations are growing and bad ones are declining
Good occupations are growing and bad ones are declining

In barely 25 years, in Spain, employment in quality occupations has doubled, growing by 15 percentage points when salaries, education level or prestige are taken into account.

However, even though the pattern is repeated (good occupations grow more and poor ones decline), the change is less pronounced when job satisfaction is analysed. This is understandable if we take into account the fact that Spain is one of the European countries with the lowest levels of job satisfaction, even among workers with well-paid or high-prestige occupations.

Employment quality goes beyond salary

A “good job” is often associated with a “well-paid” job. However, employment quality is a multidimensional phenomenon that it is hard to reduce exclusively to salaries. For that reason, here a broader focus is adopted in which four employment quality indicators are incorporated:

  1. Median income for the occupation.

  2. Education level.

  3. Occupational prestige.

  4. Worker job satisfaction.

Classification

Tags

Subject areas

Related content

Article

Wage inequality during the pandemic: public subsidies

What impact has the economic crisis caused by covid-19 had on wage inequality? Have public subsidies been sufficient? We analyse which groups have been most affected.

Infodata

Human capital formation

Rate of early leavers from education and training in Spain and EU-27.

Infodata

Difficulties of families related with housing

54.5% of single-parent households have no capacity to tackle unforeseen expenses. What type of material shortages do other households have?

Barometer

Percentage of children aged below 6 years that are at risk of poverty

Review

Between complacency and a self-defeating dream

The two books reviewed share concerns regarding the decline of the USA and show the problems facing the country. From different perspectives, both reach the same diagnosis regarding American society and the danger that threatens democracy.

You may also find interesting

Percentage of people who view themselves as above their parents or grandparents on the social ladder

Infodata

Percentage of people who view themselves as above their parents or grandparents on the social ladder


Social Inclusion

Some 29% of Spaniards have a social position above that of their parents, and over 40% believe they have risen above their grandparents on the social ladder.

Number of generations necessary so that those born in families with low incomes can reach the average level of income in their society

Infodata

Number of generations necessary so that those born in families with low incomes can reach the average level of income in their society


Social Inclusion

In Spain, according to this indicator, it takes four generations to improve the incomes of families with precarious finances.

Fertility rate

Infodata

Fertility rate


Social Inclusion

The fertility rate in Spain is 1.23 children per woman, the second lowest rate among European Union countries.