Policy Press

The Political Economy of Work Security and Flexibility

Italy in Comparative Perspective

By Fabio Berton, Matteo Richiardi and Stefano Sacchi


May 30, 2012

Page count

200 pages




240 x 172 mm


Policy Press
The Political Economy of Work Security and Flexibility

The economic crisis has revealed the dark side of deregulation in the labour market: rising unemployment, limited access to social security and, due to low wages, no savings to count upon in bad times.

This book casts light on the empirical relationship between labour market deregulation through non-standard contracts and the three main dimensions of worker security: employment, income and social security. Focusing on individual work histories, it looks at how labour market dynamics interact with the social protection system in bringing about inequality and insecurity. In this context Italy is put forward as the epitome of flexibility through non-standard work and compared with three similar countries: Germany, Spain and Japan. Results show that when flexibility is carried out as a mere cost-reduction device and social security only relies on insurance principles, deregulation leads to insecurity.

'The political economy of work security and flexibility' is essential reading for academics, students, practitioners and policy makers interested in the outcomes of labour market developments in advanced economies over the past twenty years.

"By using clear language and structure and by offering an excellent overview of the flexicurity debate with solid empirical evidence on workers' (in)security along multiple dimensions, this book is of indubitable value for academics, students and policy makers." Work, employment and society

"...this book is a milestone: a conceptually clear, empirically-grounded contribution that advances our understanding of the complex links between flexibility and security." British Journal of Industrial Relations

"The aim of labor market deregulation is not just more hiring but an improvement in overall living standards. Via a detailed exploration of the Italian case, this fine book documents the importance of effective social protections to achievement of that goal." Lane Kenworthy, Professor of Sociology and Political Science, University of Arizona

"Using unique Italian work history data, the book offers a compelling analysis of the impact of nonstandard work on worker well-being in Italy and gives valuable comparisons to Germany, Japan and Spain." Richard B. Freeman, Professor of Economics, Harvard University

"This book is distinctive for its careful comparative investigation and measurement of the multiple dimensions of worker insecurity. An impressive study which is a must-read for scholars and policy makers alike." Martin Rhodes, Professor of Comparative Political Economy, University of Denver

Fabio Berton is Research Fellow in Economic Statistics at the University of Eastern Piedmont, Italy, and Senior Researcher at LABORatorio R. Revelli - Center for Employment Studies.

Matteo Richiardi is Assistant Professor of Economics at the University of Turin, Italy, and Senior Researcher at LABORatorio R. Revelli - Center for Employment Studies.

Stefano Sacchi is Assistant Professor of Political Science at the University of Milan, Italy, and Carlo Alberto Affiliate at the Collegio Carlo Alberto of Turin.

Worker security and the spread of non-standard work; Flexibility and security in contemporary labour markets; Labour policy developments in Italy in comparative perspective; Flexibility and employment security: an analysis of work careers; Flexibility and wage dynamics; Flexibility and social security; A monetary measure of worker (in)security; Conclusions.