Academic journal article The European Journal of Comparative Economics

Temporary Employment in Russia: Why Mostly Men?

Academic journal article The European Journal of Comparative Economics

Temporary Employment in Russia: Why Mostly Men?

Article excerpt


The paper deals with temporary employment in the Russian labour market. The main focus is the gender difference regarding determinants of temporary employment. Unlike most European countries, where women are more likely to have temporary work, in Russia men predominantly have this status, comparable to the situation in many developing countries. This paper seeks to understand why this is the case. The household survey of NOBUS (held in 2003 by State Statistical Centre with World Bank participation) is used to answer this question: the results suggest that gender differences in temporary employment do exist, and that the main factors that explain these differences are education, and marital status.

JEL Classification: J21, J41

Keywords: temporary employment, fixed-term contracts, unwritten agreements, gender, determinants of the probability, decomposition for gender differences, Russia

1. Introduction

Temporary employment has spread considerably in Russia since the collapse of the Soviet Union. If we compare the number of temporary workers in 2007 with the number of unemployed, we will see that the former exceeds the latter. It is incredible that while the problem of unemployment is widely discussed, the phenomenon of temporary employment has been largely neglected by both researchers and policy makers.

Politicians tend to perceive the employed as a homogeneous group of workers, but this is not so. Labour legislation for permanent and temporary employment is different, and moreover, employer and employee behavior is different as a result of labour contract relations: employers do not invest in temporary workers' training and do not pay them equivalent salary; while employees may work carelessly and be disloyal due to the fact that they do not accumulate specific capital. Previous research has shown that temporary workers are systematically paid less than permanent ones, typically hold positions which do not require high education and qualifications, face the future with greater uncertainty, and are at greater risk of social exclusion (see Booth, et al (2000), Gustafsson, et al. (2001), Booth, et al. (2002), Hagen (2002) and Graaf-Zijl (2005)).

Research on temporary employment is of great value for the state as it deals with many social problems. In order to make the appropriate social policy decisions in this field, we need to understand the mechanism of temporary employment formation.

Looking at the situation in the world, we can see that Spain, Mexico, Portugal and Turkey had the highest rate of temporary employment (more than 20%) in 2000, while Russia, USA, Poland, Slovakia and Ireland had the lowest rate (about 4-5%; see figure 1). This diversity continues later on, but the leaders in share of temporary workers changed (see figure 1). For example Poland could be added to the leaders' list as more than 28% of its labour force work on a temporary basis. Russia moved to the middle of the distribution among neighbors such as Norway, Greece, Turkey and Iceland.

Males and females have different reasons for taking part in temporary work. In most western countries women tend to be more involved in temporary employment than men (see figure 2). Their motivation often links to childrearing, family problems, and a wish to work part-time (see Boeri, Del Boca and Pissarides (2005)). For young men this temporary work could be a chance to get a permanent job (see Hubler and Hubler (2006)). Children and family are not of such importance for them when they make a decision to work on temporary contracts.

The dynamics of temporary employment in Russia are given in Figure 3. During the last 16 years the proportion of temporary employment has gradually increased from 2,5% in 1992 to about 12% in 2007 in Russia. Now more than 8 million people are working on temporary basis in this country. Russian men are constantly more engaged in temporary employment than women. …

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