The employment crisis and the Welfare State in Portugal: deterring drivers of social vulnerability and inequality

EmployALL aims to study the relationship of mutual dependence between employment and social protection. In the context of the Great Recession and the ensuing 'adjustment program' in Portugal, this interdependence manifested itself as an articulation of a crisis of employment with a crisis of social protection. The employment crisis involved an unprecedented rise of unemployment, wage decline and precarious work, which increased the burden on social protection. The outcome, aggravated by cuts directly affecting social protection, was a shortfall in the responsiveness of the system to new social vulnerabilities - a crisis of social protection. The two concomitant crises widened inequalities in diverse territorial contexts. EmployALL addresses the following research questions: 1) Which mechanisms connect employment (unemployment, precarious work and wage decline) to social protection (its capacity to respond to increasing demands), and to what extent the increased pressure on, and the social protection system shortfalls have contributed to augment risks in employment and unemployment? 2) To what extent is the articulation of the employment and social protection crises converging in the production and cumulative reproduction of inequalities, and how is this process to be reversed through public policies? The project will draw on an interdisciplinary methodological framework and will use quantitative and qualitative methodologies at different territorial scales. A structure of 6 work packages (WP) will be adopted. WP1 will be devoted to the theoretical mapping of the relations of mutual dependence between employment and social protection. WP2 will characterize the employment and social protection crises in Portugal, in the context of the EU, at various national territorial scales. WP3 aims to characterize the reciprocal impacts between the employment and social protection crises in the frame of the evolving financialized accumulation regime, with particular focus on how the private finance sector tends to occupy areas of eroded public provision. WP4 will be devoted to identifying the drivers of inequality stemming from the employment and social protection crises. Building on the previous WPs, namely the identificationof the main drivers of inequality and the qualitative analysis of best practices, WP5 envisions the elaboration of public policy instruments that, by acting upon critical drivers, may prevent or reverse the level of social inequalities. WP6 involves the dissemination of the findings and policy recommendations of the project. EmployALL will overcome an existing gap in knowledge: the mechanisms operating in Portugal intertwining the employment and the social protection crises. It thus offers novel insights for the international state of the art and contributes to the design of public policies that may significantly decrease inequalities in Portugal.

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Project Funding
External Partners
CIES-Iscte - Centre for Research and Studies in Sociology
Centro de Estudos Sociais da Universidade de Coimbra
Institute for Economic, Financial and Tax Law of the Faculty of Law of the University of Lisbon
Instituto de Ciências Sociais da Universidade de Lisboa (ICS/UL)
Data from Ciência-IUL