Convergence: Working conditions

07 Detsember 2018

Convergence in working conditions has not been the subject of such long-standing research as other areas. The analysis of working conditions over time in Europe is a relatively new development, often based on data from the European Working Conditions Survey (EWCS), which had its first edition in 1990.

The EWCS job quality concept highlights the multidimensional nature of working conditions. It is operationalised by seven independent dimensions of job quality. Most of these are summarised through a composite index which is used to analyse convergence. However, due to data availability only four are subject of the current analysis. The job-quality concept developed by Eurofound is here enriched with an additional dimension measuring income and wages in the EU.

Dimension 1: Physical environment

For the Physical Environment Index, upward convergence among Member States was observed over 2005–2015. Overall, a linear, though very moderate, improvement was seen over the period. Dispersion among Member States decreased particularly between 2005 and 2010. Upward convergence took place in both the euro zone and non-euro area, while improvements were observed in most EU Member States.

Dimension 2: Work intensity

A process of weak upward divergence took place in terms of the Work Intensity Index over the period 2005–2015. An increase in the variability of work intensity among Member States was only recorded in the euro zone in the observed period, while it remained unchanged in the non-euro area.

Dimension 3: Working time quality

In the Working Time Quality Index, upward convergence among Member States was observed over the period 2005–2015. Declining dispersion among countries was constant from 2005 on. The average Working Time Quality Index instead increased at a slower pace. Convergence was mostly driven by the non-euro area, while there has been only a negligible decrease in variability within the euro zone.

Dimension 4: Skills and discretion

Upward divergence was observed as regards the Skills and Discretion Index, with increasing averages but rising dispersion among the Member States over the period 2005–2015. The moderate process of divergence was mostly driven by euro zone countries, whereas the non-euro area has shown a moderate decrease in variability.

Dimension 5: Wages and inequality

As regards the average compensation per hour of employees in euro, upward divergence among Member States was observed over the period 2005–2018. Growing dispersion among countries was constant from 2005 onwards. However, the average hourly compensation paid to employees also increased until 2018. Developments are comparable between the euro zone and non-euro area, with increasing averages in both, though more pronounced in the euro zone.

A process of weak downward convergence took place in terms of income inequality (S80/S20 ratio) over the period 2005–2016. While initially upward convergence was recorded from 2005 to 2012, since 2012 this was replaced by a strong downward divergence trend until 2015, returning to upward convergence between 2015 and 2017. These developments were mostly driven by the non-euro area.

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