Inequality in the European Union (EU) Essay

Inequality in the European Union (EU) Essay

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Cumulative European Union (EU) enlargements to include relatively less developed countries such as Bulgaria and Romania, along with the possibility of future EU status being granted to Turkey and Albania (EC, 2011), raises further questions about inequality in the European Union. The global recession has bought the issue of labour market models and resulting inequities back into the forefront political discourse, as government cutbacks necessitate the reappraisal of welfare states and labour market policy. This essay will analyse both differing labour market models and the EU labour market as a whole to explain why EU countries have heterogeneous inequities. Overall, within countries, differing interplay of welfare states, varieties of capitalism and employment structures has a profound effect on levels of inequality within labour markets; particularly post EU-crisis when rapid change exacerbated many inequalities. Additionally, the macro EU labour market would appear to create inequality, particularly because of the free movement of labour. It seems despite having a labour market branded as homogenous (Siničáková, 2011), Europe’s interacting varieties of capitalism and employment legislation have created a heterogeneous continent; with equally diverse inequalities.

Gosta Esping-Andersen’s 1990 book The Three Worlds of Welfare Capitalism remains a convenient starting point for examining the capacity different labour models have to create inequality. Despite criticism for being out-dated and of limited relevance given the homogenous nature of Andersen’s typologies, their intuitive coherence means they go some way in explaining patterns of inequality in the EU (Goodin, 1999).


The liberal model of welfare capitalism puts ma...


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...dersen, G. (1990). The three worlds of welfare capitalism. Cambridge: Polity Press.
Hall, P., & Soskice, D. (2001). Varieties of capitalism: The institutional foundations of comparative advantage. (P. Hall & D. Soskice, Eds.). Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Rosewarne, S. (2010). Globalisation and the Commodification of Labour: Temporary Labour Migration. The Economic and Labour Relations Review, 20(2), 99–110.
Schmid, K. D., & Stein, U. (2013). Explaining Rising Income Inequality in Germany, 1991-2010. IMK, 32(1), 1–45.
Siničáková, M. (2011). Homogeneity of the European Union from the Point of View of Labour Market. Journal of Women’s Entrepreneurship and Education, 17–28.
Spicker, P. (2008). Social policy: themes and approaches (p. 307). Policy Press.
Standing, G. (1999). Global labour flexibility: Seeking distributive justice. London: Palgrave Macmillan.

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