Precarity As Volatility: The Impact of Employment Volatility on Inequalities

Saturday, June 25, 2016: 2:30 PM-4:00 PM
210 South Hall (South Hall)
Eunmi Mun, Amherst College, Amherst, MA
Jiwook Jung, National University of Singapore, Singapore, Singapore
Zoltan Lippenyi, Utrecht University, Utrecht, Netherlands
William Rainey, UMASS-Amherst, Amherst, MA
Precarity is often defined by employment status, such as part-time and contract workers, considered as an attribute of individual employees. We attempt to redefine precarity as an organizational-level volatility in order to highlight the collective experience of precarity at workplaces and its impact on individual employees. Workplace interactions are likely to be very different between organizations where employees have a stable employment history and those where turnover rates are high and layoffs are frequently made. In this paper, we will first construct workplace-level measures of volatility, such as the organizational size variance, the average length of employee tenure, and prior incidences of layoffs, from the COIN employer-employee linked datasets. Using these organizational-level measures of employment volatility, we will examine how volatility affects within-workplace inequalities, focusing on gaps between genders, age groups, and core-marginal employees. This study can contribute to the development of the relational theory of inequality by showing how firm-level volatility affects interactions among workers and changes the ways resources are distributed among them.