Cyclopedia Of Economics 1st edition

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II. The Facts

IIa. Labour Mobility

"Mobility", "globalization", "flextime" - media imagery leads us to believe that we move around more often, and change (less secure) jobs more frequently. It is not so. By many measures, the world is less globalized today than it was a century ago. Contrary to popular perceptions, job tenure (in the first 8 years of employment) has not declined, nor did labour mobility increase (according to findings published by the NBER and CEPR). Firms' hiring and firing practices are more flexible but this is because "sarariman" jobs are out of fashion and many workers (80% of them, according to the Employment Policy Foundation) prefer casual work with temporary contracts.

Workers keep moving, as they always have, among firms and between sectors. But they are still reluctant to relocate, let alone emigrate. The subjective perception of job insecurity is high, even after the most prosperous decade in recent history. Witness the sparse movement of labour among members of the EU, despite the existence, on paper, of a single labour market. Still, rising systemic unemployment everywhere serves to increase both the efficiency and productivity of workers and to moderate their wage claims.

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