Widening double dualisation? Labour market inequalities and national social policy responses in Western Europe during the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic

Soc Policy Adm. 2022 May 13:10.1111/spol.12814. doi: 10.1111/spol.12814. Online ahead of print.

ABSTRACT

Europe is witnessing a ‘double dualisation’ process, whereby inequalities have increased both between labour market insiders and outsiders, and between core and peripheral countries. We test the double dualisation hypothesis in the context of the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. Did the COVID crisis exacerbate income inequalities between insiders and outsiders? Did cross-country territorial divides also increase? Did national governments’ emergency measures contribute to containing or widening double dualisation? We deploy a multi-method research design that combines original survey data on seven old EU member states with three case studies on Germany, Italy, and the Netherlands. Results show that, in the short term, the COVID-19 pandemic has been a catalyst of double dualisation: outsiders bore the greatest burden, especially in southern European countries. National emergency measures largely depended on the fiscal leeway available to governments and followed pre-existing welfare trajectories, thus worsening cross-country inequalities, with potentially severe consequences for the European integration process.

PMID:35942433 | PMC:PMC9347833 | DOI:10.1111/spol.12814

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