Work-Sharing Policies in Europe
As the title suggests, the article by Boulin and Cette sketches the broad array of policies affecting length of the working week in European countries since the beginning of the sixties. They show the different motivations and methods which have led all these countries to resort to more or less important reductions and re-arrangements of the working week.
They show that after a phase of general reduction in the hours of work on a common model (during the sixties), some country-specific patterns evolved which were further transformed within countries by growing diversification in duration, rhythms and times of operation.
The authors identify the factors which have played a motivating role in these evolutions, by period and country: improvement in the quality of life, more effective machinery and equipment, higher productivity. They have paid special attention to the quite different methods (notably collective bargaining and statutory regulations) by which the reduction in working week has been put into effect.
Finally, and while acknowledging that the highly variable incidence of part-time work can bias international comparisons, the authors show that reduction of the working week is a tendency of long duration common to all the countries of Europe. If there is a particularly French aspect to the trend it is the important role played by government, which is doubtless attributable to shortfalls in collective bargaining.