The future of European labour markets

Workers face significant challenges in contemporary labour markets. Working lives have become increasingly flexible and uncertain. Flexibility, increased forms of non-standard and part-time hours, the prevalence of temporary work, changing locations of work blur the boundaries between work and life outside of work. Simultaneously, expectations outside of work remain or have become intensified. For example, care responsibilities are growing in their complexity due to social and demographic changes. In this context, what does the future of labour look like?

During the next seminar of the DiEM Citizen University Mara Yerkes starts from a normative philosophical framework developed by Indian economist and philosopher Amyrta Sen – the capabilities approach – which is often used to evaluate social science phenomena such as gender inequality, work-family balance, life-long learning, occupational disability and young people’s transitions from school to work. This approach will be presented briefly to start an interactive discussion on what the applicability of a capabilities framework means for understanding the future of labour.

What does this mean for Europe? Is there even such a thing as a European labour market? Ronald Dekker will argue that according to principles of subsidiarity labour market regulation is taking place at the national level and EU coordination in this respect has not led to convergence of labour market outcomes or any real integration of labour markets. He claims that we should analyse the future of European labour markets separately, recognizing for instance, that the labour market in Denmark is completely distinct from the labour market in Spain and will remain so for a long time. The real question, according to Dekker is: which policies and institutions will improve labour market outcomes?


  • Ronald Dekker is assistant professor of labour economics at Reflect, Tilburg University. His research interests include labour market dynamics and flexibility, employment security, inclusive labour markets and robotization.
  • Mara Yerkes is Assistant Professor of Interdisciplinary Social Science at Utrecht University and honorary research fellow at the Institute for Social Science Research, the University of Queensland in Brisbane, Australia. Her research interests include work, care and family, gender, comparative welfare states, industrial relations, social inequality and women’s employment.

Date and time: 20th of April at 19.30h

Location: Universiteit voor Humanistiek, Kromme Nieuwegracht 29, Utrecht. Room 0.38.