Giacomo Canepa; Scuola Normale Superiore, Sciences Po Center for History, Univ. Franco-italienne (Web)
Venue: Scuola Normale Superiore in Pisa
Proposals by: 21.07.2023
The second globalisation has raised the issue of the cost of labour as a key variable in the competitiveness of economies. Confronted with the extension of value chains and the emergence of new global players in Asia, European governments have chosen to deregulate labour markets, contain wage growth, and lower the cost of labour. More recently, the resurgence of inflation has brought back to the fore the 1970s debates on the Phillips curve and the effects of the labour market on price increases. The emergence of the centrality of labour costs points to the need to examine them as a long-term historical object to understand economic and social policy choices throughout the 20th century. Wages cannot be reduced to a variable for adjusting supply and demand on the labour market: They are also an instrument for selecting and training the workforce, and a subject of negotiation – and, possibly, contention – between employees and employers, often regulated and supervised by the State.
Furthermore, during the 20th century, wage setting became a matter of social policy. The development of social protection and the construction of social rights required the introduction of social contributions on both employers and employees, as well as steeply progressive taxes on earned income. The cost of labour, understood as both wages and indirect costs (taxes, social contributions, non-monetary benefits), is a fundamental element of public policy in the second half of the twentieth century. Not only does it affect the production process and the distribution of income but it also has an impact on export competitiveness, on the attraction of foreign investment, and on the creation and consolidation of domestic markets.
Conceived as a first step in the preparation of a journal issue or a collective work, this workshop proposes a historical reflection on labour cost by combining economic history, the history of the welfare state, and the history of labour. The aim is to contribute to the understanding of issues related to the cost of labour through the study of their … read more and source (Web).