Chapter 17: Employment trajectories in the main working age. Pluralisation and rising precarity?

The first report on Germany’s socioeconomic development has proved that after decades of increasing underemployment for many people, labour participation has become more insecure and precarious. Successful labour participation seems therefore threatened. However, it also showed that only for a smaller portion the new risks lead to the fringes of the employment system (exclusion). Within this system itself an area of insecure and discontinued work biographies develops. A broad area of employees with still normal conditions of employment and work biographies is not directly affected by these changes, but experiences them ‘only’ as a threatening possibility.

This chapter aims to provide a micro analytical foundation for the monitoring of employment participation, whereas the chapter Employment Participation in the division ‘Insecure Employment Participation’ is primarily located at the macro level. Thus, quantitative analyses are supplemented by qualitative research approaches.

With the question of precariousness or security of employment participation, it is ultimately the quality of participation and its different dimensions that is being addressed. In order to measure precariousness and to make it reportable, one needs – apart from intense theoretical preliminary work –a multilayered and comprehensive empirical design. As precariousness is rather a feature of employment biographies than of certain employment conditions, the criteria as to which patterns of employment participation have to be attributed to the area of precariousness can only be gained from longitudinal section analyses. Multivariate event analyses – like cox-regressions which permit a simultaneous consideration of covariates – shall be used here.

Only by observing working life biographies and not just the current employment situation can one show the mid-term and long-term consequences of different forms of employment participation for working life. Besides objective features, the subjective perception of the employment situation as well as the experienced security or insecurity serve as special criteria.

The new insecurity of employment participation does not apply to all employees equally. The chapter’s task is to observe and detect possible lines of segmentation between different groups of employment (according to education, profession, gender, age and religion):

  • Transitional Events. Which persons master the transition from unemployment to employment and what quality do the new employment conditions have? What importance does spatial mobility and the income perspective have? Which connections exist between income and stability of employment?
  • Patterns of Employment Participation. To what extent do employment risks accumulate during the course of employment? How is precarious employment participation defined and how does one measure it? Whole working life biographies or longer sequences have to be analysed and typified for this purpose.
  • Subjective Evaluation of individual Employment Integration. Do feelings of insecurity and concern about one’s own employment situation affect the family and household context? Which repercussions result from labour participation and the quality of workplaces?
Results (German)
Peter Bartelheimer: Prekarität als Risiko im Lebensverlauf PDF

Responsibility for this chapter

Anne Hacket, Institut für Sozialwissenschaftliche Forschung (ISF München)