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Earnings segregation at work is an understudied topic in social science, despite the workplace being an everyday nexus for social mixing, cohesion, contact, claims- making, and resource exchange. It is all the more urgent to study as workplaces, in the last decades, have undergone profound reorganizations that could impact its magnitude and its evolution. Analyzing linked employer-employee panel administrative databases, we study the evolving isolation of higher earners from other employees in twelve countries: Canada, Czechia, Denmark, France, Germany, Hungary, Japan, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain, South Korea, and Sweden. We find in almost all countries a growing workplace isolation of top earners and dramatically declining exposure of top earners to bottom earners. We do a first exploration of the main factors accounting for this trend: deindustrialization, workplace downsizing restructuring (including layoffs, outsourcing, offshoring, and subcontracting) and digitalization contribute substantially to the increase in top earner segregation. These findings open up a future research agenda on the causes and consequences of top earner segregation.
The paper is available at request from the author.
Olivier Godechot is an economic sociologist interested in the study of labor markets, especially finance and academic labor markets, as a means to understand the development of unequal exchange relations at work and their impact on the dynamics of inequality. He has studied the division of labor and ordinary rationalities in a trading room and compensation mechanisms in the financial industry. Extending his interest in labor markets to academia, he has also examined university hiring, in particular the impact of networks on recruitment. He has published four books on wages, finance, labor markets, and traders. His research currently focuses on the financialization of modern societies, with a special interest in mobility in financial labor markets and their effects on broader inequalities.
Martin Schurz is an economist and an Adlerian Individual Psychologist; he is Head of Economic Microdata Research at the Economic Research Division at the Oesterreichische Nationalbank. He works as a psychotherapist at an institute for children in crisis in Vienna (Boje) and lectures at the Economic University of Vienna (WU-Wien) and at the FH-Campus. His research interests are on issues of wealth distribution and justice. He is the project leader of the Household Finance and Consumption Survey (HFCS) of the Eurosystem in Austria.
Andrea Krizsan is Senior Research Fellow at the CEU Democracy Institute, lead researcher of its Inequalities and Democracy Workgroup, and Professor at the CEU Department of Public Policy and the Gender Studies Department. She works on the politics of inequalities and equality policy interventions in countries of Central and Eastern Europe. Her current research focuses on gender equality aspects of de-democratization processes and the role of civil society in building democratic resilience and inclusive democratization processes. Besides her academic work Andrea also acts as the Chair of the CEU Senate Equal Opportunity Committee. Andrea has a PhD in Political Science from the Central European University.