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Labour market flexibility in UK regions, 1979–1998

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Despite the centrality of the issue of labour market flexibility, attempts to consistently measure levels of flexibility, either within or across countries, have been remarkably scarce. This paper makes a significant contribution towards filling this gap by presenting a set of labour market flexibility indicators for the UK. Derived from survey-data sources, the indexes relate directly to theoretical considerations on the issue of flexibility and cover a 20-year period (1979–1998) at sub-national detail (Standard Statistical Regions). Examination of their temporal evolution and regional variation reveals a number of interesting findings, most notably that increases in flexibility have not been uniform across space and that persistent regional differences exist in functional specialisations in flexibility with the most significant pattern of regional differentiation being not in the levels of (overall) flexibility but in the types of flexible arrangements that prevail in each region.
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Keywords: UK regions; decomposition; indexes; labour market flexibility

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: European Institute, LSE, Houghton Street, London WC2A 2AE, Email:

Publication date: 2007-09-01

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