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URPP Equality of Opportunity

The Politics of Labor Market Inequality

The marked rise in economic inequality observed in most advanced democracies during the past decades is widely seen as a challenge to social cohesion. Structural economic change confronts parts of the population with a societal context in which their aspirations and life-chances have seemingly narrowed, making them susceptible to political appeals to upend – rather than incrementally adjust – the political system. This subproject studies how economic inequality and (lacking) occupational mobility affect political integration, vote choice and satisfaction with the political system more generally.
A first part of the subproject deals with the increasing spatial concentration of jobs and economic opportunity in the “knowledge economy”. We create a multidimensional index of local opportunity and map it across German NUTS-3 regions. We combine this opportunity map with individual-level panel data to examine the economic and political consequences of spatial relocation to “opportunity regions”. The second part of the subproject focuses more explicitly on the role of place in shaping economic opportunity. Relying on fine-grained administrative data on economic context in Switzerland, we examine how hyper-local economic context shapes mobility prospects and electoral choices both in the short- and in the long-run. In a third part, we examine the impact of digitalization at the workplace on intragenerational mobility and the resulting demand for government support. To do so, we follow a particularly exposed group – apprentices in white-collar clerical jobs in Switzerland – over time and accompany their labor market entrance after completion of training with an original panel survey. The fourth part of the subproject asks directly about government’s capacity to moderate the link between structural economic change and individual political reactions at the ballot box. We study a specific policy intervention in France, which was introduced in 2011 to support citizens who lost their jobs due to economic reasons.



Valentina Consiglio
PhD Student
Department of Political Science


Prof. Thomas Kurer
Project Leader
Department of Political Science

Bilyana Petrova
Department of Political Science

Data used

(1) German Opportunity Index: Consists of a large number of indicators including admin data, online job vacancy data and web-scraped data from Open Street Map
(2) Data on economic context in Switzerland: Matched admin data from various government departments
(3) Original panel data collected in collaboration with the professional organization of Swiss commercial occupations (Kaufmännischer Verband)
(4) French admin data covering all recipients of a specific policy intervention (contrat de sécurisation professionnelle, CSP) introduced in 2011
(5) Two original survey data sets sampling (a) recipients of CSP and (b) the French working age population

For further information about the project and data availability please contact: