Low-Wage Work in the Netherlands

Low-Wage Work in the Netherlands

Wiemer Salverda
Maarten van Klaveren
Marc van der Meer
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  • Book Info
    Low-Wage Work in the Netherlands
    Book Description:

    The Dutch economy has often been heralded for accomplishing solid employment growth within a generous welfare system. In recent years, the Netherlands has seen a rise in low-wage work and has maintained one of the lowest unemployment rates in the European Union. Low-Wage Work in the Netherlands narrows in on the causes and consequences of this new development. The authors find that the increase in low-wage work can be partly attributed to a steep rise in the number of part-time jobs and non-standard work contracts—46 percent of Dutch workers hold part-time jobs. The decline in full-time work has challenged historically powerful Dutch unions and has led to a slow but steady dismantling of many social insurance programs from 1979 onward. At the same time, there are hopeful lessons to be gleaned from the Dutch model: low-wage workers benefit from a well-developed system of income transfers, and many move on to higher paying jobs. Low-Wage Work in the Netherlands paints a nuanced picture of the Dutch economy by analyzing institutions that both support and challenge its low-wage workforce.

    eISBN: 978-1-61044-484-2
    Subjects: Business, Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. About the Authors
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-x)
  5. INTRODUCTION The Dutch Story
    (pp. 1-15)
    Robert Solow

    By any reasonable standard definition of “low-wage work,” about a quarter of American wage earners are low-wage workers. The corresponding figure is smaller, sometimes much smaller, in other comparable advanced capitalist countries. This fact is not very good for the self-image of Americans. It does not seem to be what is meant by “crown(ing) thy good with brotherhood, from sea to shining sea.” The paradox, if that is the right word, is the starting point for the extensive study of which this book is an important part. What are the comparative facts, what do they mean, and why do they...

  6. CHAPTER 1 The Debate in the Netherlands on Low Pay
    (pp. 16-31)
    Wiemer Salverda, Maarten van Klaveren and Marc van der Meer

    Employment performance in the Dutch labor market is exceptional in several ways. Today the employment rate in the Netherlands is the highest of the euro zone, and the unemployment rate the lowest. As the country has passed through several deep recessions, the structure of production has shifted from an industrial to a service economy, with the help of a gradual adaptation of the institutional structure. Firms have responded strategically to competitive and institutional pressures by changing their product market strategies, work organization, and human resource policy. In this study, we evaluate the effects for various groups of low-paid workers who...

  7. CHAPTER 2 Low-Wage Work and the Economy
    (pp. 32-62)
    Wiemer Salverda

    This chapter discusses the level and composition of low-wage employment from a combined cross-sectional and time-series perspective. It also considers how low-wage work fits the national economy and the labor market. We start with a quick overview of the most striking features of the national economy and the labor market before describing the low-wage segment in more detail; then we combine these two topics. The chapter continues with a discussion of the individual dynamics of low pay; it concludes with a summary of the findings.

    In recent decades, the Netherlands has managed a strong growth of the per-capita employment rate...

  8. CHAPTER 3 Labor Market Institutions, Low-Wage Work, and Job Quality
    (pp. 63-131)
    Wiemer Salverda

    The ultimate question in this study of low-wage work across countries is this: does low-wage employment differ across countries because of a difference in institutions? That is, do firms shape these jobs differently because of the way their country’s institutions are organized and affect the labor market? Chapter 4 elaborates on firm strategies, while chapters 5 through 9 address the double question of whether the target jobs are shaped differently and, if so, how they are affected by the institutional environment. This chapter prepares the ground by taking stock of a selection of institutions that may be at play in...

  9. CHAPTER 4 The Position, Design, and Methodology of the Industry Studies
    (pp. 132-147)
    Maarten van Klaveren

    This chapter aims to provide the bridge between the first three chapters, which were focused on the national level, and the next five chapters, which concentrate on the target industries and subsectors at the meso level and the case study establishments at the micro level. The research targets five industries and specific target occupations within each one:

    The retail trade, divided into the subsectors of supermarkets and consumer electronics retail, with the target occupations of checkout operators and sales clerks, respectively

    Hotels, with the target occupation of room attendants

    Hospitals, with the target occupations of nursing assistants, nutrition assistants, and...

  10. CHAPTER 5 The Retail Industry: The Contrast of Supermarkets and Consumer Electronics
    (pp. 148-176)
    Maarten van Klaveren

    The regular customer in a Dutch supermarket usually encounters a rather segmented work organization in the store: a lineup of checkout operators, most of them female; at various spots in the store, shelf-stackers, mostly boys, who are busy with physical distribution; and in a glass room or customer greeting area near the entry, a gentleman in a suit, the store manager. The visitor to a Dutch electronics store gets a picture of a completely different organization: sales clerks who are nearly all well-dressed gents, and all carrying out more or less the same tasks; and sometimes a few ladies of...

  11. CHAPTER 6 Hotels: Industry Restructuring and Room Attendants’ Jobs
    (pp. 177-205)
    Ria Hermanussen

    In the last decade, the character and structure of the Dutch hotel industry have been quickly transformed. The small-scale, independent family hotel with one or two stars is gradually disappearing, and three- and four-star hotels are taking its place.¹ New forms of cooperation and ownership have evolved, and the influence of foreign corporate chains has increased. These changes deeply affect work organization and job quality in hotels.

    The hotel industry is part of the hospitality industry (hotels, restaurants, cafés) and employs approximately 73,000 persons. Hospitality is a labor-intensive industry—one-quarter of each euro in sales goes into wages—with a...

  12. CHAPTER 7 Health Care: Integrated Quality Care Sheltered from Cost Control?
    (pp. 206-236)
    Marc van der Meer

    The organization of work processes in hospitals is robustly institutionalized in Dutch regulations, and work processes are strictly planned and scheduled in order to finely calibrate the needs of the organization with the availability of employees. The overall ambition of the system is to provide integrated, high-quality care. For this reason, the integration and upgrading of function levels have been standard practices in all hospitals.

    The demand for health care is growing each year, owing to the increase in and aging of the population. The cost implications of increasing demand have resulted in a political debate regarding the governance system...

  13. CHAPTER 8 Call Center Employment: Diverging Jobs and Wages
    (pp. 237-266)
    Maarten van Klaveren and Wim Sprenger

    We are at a multinational finance company. It owns five call centers “in-house” all over the country, with agents available to customers by phone. The firm has decided to offer customer care by phone twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. The centers are located in different regions and operate in different regional labor markets. Each of them specializes in a particular kind of service. However, they are part of one company planning and logistic system for customer care; this system connects customers automatically with the agents qualified to deliver the kind of service they need.

    Advanced technology clearly...

  14. CHAPTER 9 The Food Industry: Meat Processing and Confectionary
    (pp. 267-296)
    Arjen van Halem

    In this research project, the manufacturing industry is represented by the food industry. This industry consists of many subsectors, from small craft-based companies, such as local bakeries, to hightech processing plants—for example, whey processing. Against this backdrop, the international food industry research group chose to focus on two subsectors in which a substantial number of low-wage jobs could be expected: the meat processing industry and the confectionary industry. The target occupation is the lower processing (and packaging) job. Both subsectors are traditionally low-skill industries with comparatively poor working conditions, but these features do not necessarily imply “low-wage.” In confectionary...

  15. CHAPTER 10 Labor Market Institutions and Firm Strategies that Matter for the Low-Paid
    (pp. 297-316)
    Wiemer Salverda, Maarten van Klaveren, Marc van der Meer, Wim Sprenger, Kea Tijdens, Arjen van Halem and Ria Hermanussen

    Over recent decades, the Netherlands has witnessed a record growth of head-count employment and a low level of unemployment. Currently, labor markets are tightening, in significant contrast with the stagnation and decline in the preceding years, when we carried out the case study fieldwork reported in this volume. The present employment-to-population ratio is at the top of the euro zone, and the unemployment rate is at the bottom. Virtually all job growth has been in part-time jobs, leading to a 46 percent share of part-time jobs in employment that is unique in the world. As a result, the currentfull-time-equivalent...

  16. Index
    (pp. 317-334)