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Inequality in the WorkplaceLabor Market Reform in Japan and Korea$
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Jiyeoun Song

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780801452154

Published to Cornell Scholarship Online: August 2016

DOI: 10.7591/cornell/9780801452154.001.0001

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The Politics of Labor Market Reform in Hard Times

The Politics of Labor Market Reform in Hard Times

(p.46) 2 The Politics of Labor Market Reform in Hard Times
Inequality in the Workplace

Jiyeoun Song

Cornell University Press

This chapter focuses on the institutional arrangements of the labor market to explain the political process and outcome of labor market reform. Under the institutionalized practices of employment protection covering a large proportion of the workforce, insiders, employers, and policy makers are more likely to form a political coalition in order to promote reform for outsiders, while privileging the interests of insiders and minimizing the political and economic costs of reform on these workers. In contrast, if employment protection systems have been less institutionalized with the coverage of the very small segment of the workforce, employers and policy makers are more likely to advance labor market reform for greater flexibility across the board. Decentralized industrial relations based on large enterprise unions are more likely to reinforce labor market inequality and dualism because such institutional configurations incentivize employers and insiders to opt for “segmentalist” approaches to the labor market and social protections.

Keywords:   labor market, labor market reform, employment protection, political coalition, decentralized industrial relations, large enterprise unions, labor market inequality, dualistic labor market

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