CAIRN-INT.INFO : International Edition

"In France, the notion of “précarité” is commonly used in both sociological literature and political debate. This notion, which, along with part-time employment ; often covers the risk of job loss and fixed-term contracts, is hardly exported to other countries. The explanation generally put forth is that employment stability is not considered a necessity everywhere, with welfare states having been built on logics more or less focused on the status conferred by stable employment. This article contributes to this conclusion – which has come mainly from case studies – by a systematic and quantitative international comparison. The countries of Western Europe are compared according to the degree of association between fixed-term contracts and (subjective and objective) risk of job loss. For this purpose, data from Statistics on Income and Living Conditions and the European Working Conditions Survey from the late 2000s are used. The analysis show that the contrasts between countries are similar to those highlighted by case studies, but that explaining them by welfare state typologies is problematic, as this does not provide an explanation for understanding the situation of the majority of countries. It seems that these differences can be better explained by an international comparison of the importance of the role of the state in professional relations, especially of the restrictions it may impose on the use of fixed-term contracts."


  • precarity
  • international comparison
  • type of contract
  • risk of job loss
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