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Structural Adjustment without Mass Unemployment?

Lessons from Russia Edited by Simon Clarke, Professor of Sociology, University of Warwick, UK and Scientific Director, Institute for Comparative Labour Relations Research (ISITO), Moscow, Russia
Mass unemployment has usually been seen as a necessary accompaniment to major structural adjustment, yet in Russia, amid economic collapse, enormous structural changes have taken place with remarkably low levels of unemployment. Some have seen low unemployment as a sign that Russia has undergone no real changes, but others see it as a sign of a remarkably flexible labour market, with very high rates of labour turnover and extremes of wage differentiation allowing low-wage (and even no-wage) employment to persist in the old industries alongside the growth of a new private sector. On this interpretation, Russia shows to the world, in extreme form, both the benefits and the costs of labour market flexibility.
Extent: 368 pp
Hardback Price: $162.00 Web: $145.80
Publication Date: 1998
ISBN: 978 1 85898 713 2
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  • Economics and Finance
  • Industrial Economics
  • Labour Economics
  • Social Policy and Sociology
  • Sociology and Sociological Theory
Mass unemployment has usually been seen as a necessary accompaniment to major structural adjustment, yet in Russia, amid economic collapse, enormous structural changes have taken place with remarkably low levels of unemployment. Some have seen low unemployment as a sign that Russia has undergone no real changes, but others see it as a sign of a remarkably flexible labour market, with very high rates of labour turnover and extremes of wage differentiation allowing low-wage (and even no-wage) employment to persist in the old industries alongside the growth of a new private sector. On this interpretation, Russia shows to the world, in extreme form, both the benefits and the costs of labour market flexibility.

Drawing on the latest Russian and Western research, the contributors in this book consider the debates surrounding the recorded levels of official unemployment and question why these levels remain so low. They offer theoretical and empirical critiques of orthodox Western interpretations of the Russian labour market and discuss labour market flexibility, proposing that increased flexibility has resulted in a downgrading of skills in the industrial labour force. This phenomenon, they argue, has particularly affected women who, as a result, have now become marginalized in the labour market. In the detailed empirical evidence they conclude that both the employed and unemployed are active and adaptable in their search for new forms of employment and, as a consequence, will respond to more active and effective policy interventions. In view of this the contributors raise questions about appropriate industrial and labour market policies for all transitional economies.

Structural Adjustment without Mass Unemployment? will be welcomed by students, researchers and academics working in the fields of labour and industrial economics and the economics of transition.
‘The book will be of great interest to specialists both on labour markets and labour relations in general and on the Russian and other ex-communist economies. It addresses fundamental issues, and deserves to be widely cited.’
– Philip Hanson, British Journal of Industrial Relations

‘. . . this series of essays provides an excellent treatment of labour market restructuring at national and local levels on contemporary Russia. More importantly, the book also provides a challenge to liberal orthodox views of structural adjustment and argues clearly that there is much the world can learn from Russia, and most certainly the lesson is that labour flexibility does not work within the context of the transition from plan to market.’
– Adrian Smith, University of Sussex, UK
Contents: Introduction (S. Clarke) 1. Structural Adjustment without Mass Unemployment (S. Clarke) 2. The Restructuring of Employment and the Formation of a Labour Market in Russia (S. Clarke, V. Kabalina, I. Kozina, I. Donova and M. Karelina) 3. Reviving Dead Souls: Russian Unemployment and Enterprise Restructuring (G. Standing) 4. The Economic Development of Industrial Enterprises and the Dynamics and Structure of Employment (P. Smirnov) 5. How Vulnerable is Women’s Employment in Russia? (G. Monousova) 6. Russian Unemployment in the mid-1990s: Features and Problems (T. Chetvernina) 7. Economic Restructuring and Employment Promotion in a Russian Crisis Region: The Case of Ivanovo (M. Keune) 8. Aspects of Official Unemployment in Moscow and St Petersburg: The Views of the Registered Unemployed (K. Young) 9. Households’ Experience of Unemployment in Moscow, St Petersburg, and Voronezh (N. Manning) References Index