In many ways, the Danish economy offers a mix of American labor market flexibility inside a European welfare state. The Danish government allows employers a relatively high level of freedom to dismiss workers, but also provides generous unemployment insurance. Widespread union coverage and an active system of collective bargaining help regulate working conditions in the absence of strong regulatory proscriptions. In this respect, Denmark proves to be an apt environment in which to measure the influence of institutions on the condition of low-skilled workers.
With funding from the Foundation, a team of Danish researchers will examine low-wage work in Denmark. Using data that tracks workers as they move between jobs, establishments, and wage rates, they will determine how long individuals remain in low-wage jobs and what happens to them after they leave. In addition, the researchers will undertake a series of in-depth case studies of call centers, food processing facilities, retail outlets, hotels, and public hospitals. They will examine corporate documents, visit work sites, and conduct interviews with staff, managers, and union representatives to determine how the particularities of the Danish labor market affect the conditions of low-paid workers.