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Low-Wage Work in the Netherlands

Weimer Salverda, Maarten Van Klaveren, Marc Van Der Meer

Publication Year: 2008

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.

Published by: Russell Sage Foundation

Series: Russell Sage Foundation Case Studies of Job Quality in Advanced Economies

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. v-vi

About the Authors

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pp. vii-viii


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pp. ix-x

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Introduction: The Dutch Story

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pp. 1-15

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...

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Chapter 1: The Debate in the Netherlands on Low Pay

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pp. 16-31

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...

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Chapter 2: Low-Wage Work and the Economy

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pp. 32-62

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...

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Chapter 3: Labor Market Institutions, Low-Wage Work, and Job Quality

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pp. 63-131

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...

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Chapter 4: The Position, Design, and Methodology of the Industry Studies

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pp. 132-147

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...

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Chapter 5: The Retail Industry: The Contrast of Supermarkets and Consumer Electronics

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pp. 148-176

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...

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Chapter 6: Hotels: Industry Restructuring and Room Attendants’ Jobs

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pp. 177-205

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...

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Chapter 7: Health Care: Integrated Quality Care Sheltered from Cost Control?

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pp. 206-236

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...

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Chapter 8: Call Center Employment: Diverging Jobs and Wages

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pp. 237-266

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...

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Chapter 9: The Food Industry: Meat Processing and Confectionary

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pp. 267-296

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 high-tech processing plants—for example, whey processing. Against this...

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Chapter 10: Labor Market Institutions and Firm Strategies that Matter for the Low-Paid

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pp. 297-316

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...


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pp. 317-334

E-ISBN-13: 9781610444842
Print-ISBN-13: 9780871547705

Page Count: 344
Publication Year: 2008

Series Title: Russell Sage Foundation Case Studies of Job Quality in Advanced Economies
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OCLC Number: 835515617
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Low-Wage Work in the Netherlands

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Subject Headings

  • Minimum wage -- Netherlands.
  • Wages -- Netherlands.
  • Unskilled labor -- Netherlands.
  • Labor market -- Netherlands.
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