Working in Large Food Retailers in France and the USA: The Key Role of Institutions

Philippe Askenazy, Ecole Normale Supérieure
Jean-Baptiste Berry, National Institute of Statistics and Economic Studies
Françoise Carré, University of Massachusetts, Boston
Sophie Prunier-Poulmaire, Université Paris Ouest Nanterre La Défense
Chris Tilly, University of California, Los Angeles
Publication Date:
Jan 2012
Project Programs:
Future of Work

Despite numerous similarities between the food retail sectors of France and the USA, there are significant contrasts in the jobs, and in particular the modal job, cashier. Notably, there are differences in pay, productivity and physical working position. Using the concept of ‘national-sectoral models’ of employment practices, this research draws on in-depth, interview-based case studies of food retailers in France and the USA, as well as standard data sources, to probe the reasons for these differences. Cross-national differences in wage-setting institutions, along with other institutional differences linked to family roles and disparate shopping cultures in the two countries, are key causes. These differences play out in interaction with distinct labour supply patterns, themselves based in part on differing institutions regarding reproduction of the labour force.


RSF: The Russell Sage Foundation Journal of the Social Sciences is a peer-reviewed, open-access journal of original empirical research articles by both established and emerging scholars.


The Russell Sage Foundation offers grants and positions in our Visiting Scholars program for research.


Join our mailing list for email updates.