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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Institutionalizing labor market dualism : the role of the family policy-VET dyad Hedges-Chou, Jessica Marie


The dualization literature looks to explain the institutional underpinnings of cross-class coalitions that support the growth of labor market dualism in Continental Europe, but has little consideration of institutional arenas that critically impact women’s employment. The gendered Varieties of Capitalism framework predicts that in coordinated market economies (CMEs), care-related employment risks attributed to women by the gender division of labor will result in a segregated labor market. The institutional complementarities that facilitate specific skills formation in male workers have distinct ramifications for women workers who are more likely to take time away from work to raise children. In both bodies of work, the gendered characteristic of labor market dualism or segregation is attributed to women’s irregular employment biography, thus taking for granted and naturalizing the gender division of labor. Fleshing out the policies that shape the gender division of labor, family policies as well as the vocational education and training (VET) system are identified in this thesis as a key institutional dyad that shapes the divergent incentive structure for female employment, and subsequently, a gendered dualistic labor market. Family policy and the VET system therefore become critical sites for investigating labor market dualization. The case studies look at changes to family policy between 1980 and 2000 in France and Germany. Using the family policy-VET institutional dyad as a tool for analysis, we observe the impact of this dynamic on women’s increasing rate of part-time work and decreasing specific skills acquisition. The gendered characteristic of dualism suggests that growing labor market segregation does not just result in unequal distributional outcomes in Continental Europe. With the proportion of women active in the labor market increasing, and the lack of family policies distributing care-related employment risks across both male and female employees, women workers and firms employing women face a pro-flexibility incentive structure with regards to training and employment strategies. As CMEs, Continental Europe creates growth and upkeeps a system of social security based on a specific skills labor market and industrial product strategy; a dualistic labor market based on gender thus poses problems for maintaining the specific skills competitive institutional advantage.

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