The dramatic impact of the 2008 crisis on the Italian economy led to policy responses including structural reforms and labour market liberalisation to reverse the worrisome output and employment trends. A key action by the Italian government, the evocatively named Jobs Act of 2014, has deeply changed Italian industrial relations. The Jobs Act has introduced a new contract type that substantially limits workers’ rights to reinstatement in case of firms invalidly firing them. This article frames the Jobs Act within the overall liberalisation process begun in Italy in the 1990s, providing an initial evaluation of its impacts. Using detailed data sources, we show that the expected boost in employment cannot be detected, the share of temporary contracts over open-ended ones has increased and the number of part-time contracts has risen. This evidence suggests that the Jobs Act is failing to achieve its main goals.
While it has long been apparent that global levels of wealth and income inequality have been steadily increasing since the 1970s, the issue received scant attention in Europe until the recent financial crisis and the resulting Great Recession illuminated for the general public just how great the chasm between the very rich and everybody else had grown. This realisation was coupled with an increased focus on inequality among economists and other academics, leading to a fresh drive for policy ideas to remedy the alarming trend. This Forum comprises a diverse range of viewpoints on the recent history and dynamics of inequality within Europe, each striving to define the root causes in the various countries being examined. The definition of these causes, of course, can inform the direction of policies aimed at alleviating the growing inequality in many European countries and thereby curtail one of the major political and social issues of our time.Click here to download the issue