Institutional Re-Employment Determinants for the Elderly Unemployed – an International Comparison

Wednesday, 13 July 2016
Location: Hörsaal 30 (Main Building)
Distributed Paper
Meike BÜCKER, University of Rostock, Germany
Recent unemployment research mainly focused on youth unemployment while the unemployment of the elderly lost its prominent role. However, statistics show that persons over 50 years are still a vulnerable labour market group. While they tend to become unemployed less often, once unemployed they face severe re-employment difficulties resulting in longer unemployment durations. In the first quarter of 2015, 60% of all unemployed aged 50-74 in the EU 28 countries were unemployed for over a year. This is noticeably higher than the overall rate (15-74 years) which averaged out at 48%. But the official statistics also show that there are large country-specific differences in the long-term unemployment rates of the elderly: The rates range from 33% in Sweden to 83% in Greece. These big discrepancies cannot solely be explained by individual characteristics. Though (long-term) unemployment can be largely attributed to gender, educational background or the employment history, the highly varying unemployment rates across Europe suggest that there are also institutional settings – e.g. unemployment benefits, pension regulations and the economic state – that influence the re-employment likelihood of older individuals.
Therefore, this study aims to identify crucial institutional determinants of (long-term) unemployment for people above 50 years. Using qualitative Fuzzy-Set analysis, institutional settings of ten European countries will be investigated. Those ten countries will consist of two countries for each regime of Esping-Andersen’s extended welfare typology (Conservative, Social-democratic, Liberal, Southern and Eastern), thereby covering a wide range of institutional arrangements. The strengths of Fuzzy-Set analysis lie in the focus on the individual case and the equifinality principle, because it considers that different institutional combinations and path-dependent trajectories can lead to different or even similar outcomes. The findings contribute to a deeper understanding of how different institutional settings, and especially their combination, influence the (long-term) unemployment rates in the chosen countries.