Matched Job Preferences Across Europe through Times of Crisis

Friday, April 15, 2016
Assembly C (DoubleTree by Hilton Philadelphia Center City)
Ingrid Esser , Stockholm University
Karen M Olsen , Department of Strategy and Management, Norwegian School of Economics, Bergen
Well-functioning matching processes in the labour market is crucial to individual as well as societal prosperity, not least through times of economic down-turn and rising unemployment. Taking an employee perspective, this study centres on how employees’ job preferences for job security and work-family balance are matched with secure jobs and flexible work hours facilitating work-family balance. European survey data from 2004 and 2010 allows us to firstly describe variations in job preferences, qualities and matching across countries and over time, indicative of changes prompted by the financial crisis. Secondly, multi-level analyses assess how central labour market institutions matter for matching pre- and post-crisis. We build on theoretical frameworks for understanding cross-country variations in the matching process. Focus lies with evaluating how unemployment benefits and strictness of employment protection legislation may facilitate or hinder matching by playing into the power balance between employers and employees on the labour market. Central structural (e.g. labour market composition) and individual characteristics (e.g. education) are also taken into account. Results indicate how preferences spread across several aspects of the job, where large majorities across European countries prefer secure jobs, and to a slightly lower extent jobs that facilitate work-family balance, whereas the availability of secure and time-flexible jobs vary more across countries. Higher unemployment rates are consistently related to worse matching, while there are certain positive effects on matching of more extensive unemployment insurance benefits, but some negative effects of stricter employment protection legislation. Results at the country level are broadly and unexpectedly non-gendered.