Labour Market Inequalities: Problems and Policies of Low-Wage Employment in International Perspective

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Low-skilled workers face a future of joblessness or low-wage, insecure employment as technological change and globalization impact on the advanced economies. 'The European social model' of collective bargaining, minimum wages, employment rights, and social welfare support is alternately cited as both cause and cure. The contributions to this book review the evidence and find that, while the European model cannot remedy adverse global trends affecting low-skilled workers, it does achieve significant success in moderating them. Collective bargaining and wage regulation reduce the incidence of low pay. Minimum wages at prevailing levels provide significant wage protection for more vulnerable workers, without substantial job losses. The significant 'jobs deficit' of Germany relative to the USA in low-wage services is not the outcome of excessively high German wages. Conversely, reliance on wage flexibility to create jobs for the low-skilled does not emerge as economically effective, and can no longer be regarded as the simple panacea.