Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Political Science

First Advisor

Dr. Priscilla Lambert

Second Advisor

Dr. Gunther Hega

Third Advisor

Dr. Jean Kimmel

Fourth Advisor

Dr. Yuan-kang Wang


comparative political economy, social democratic parties, labor market outsiders, temporary work, labor market regulation, part-time work


Since the 1980s, major structural and demographic changes in the OECD have encouraged the proliferation of nonstandard work (part-time and temporary jobs). The increase in nonstandard work is viewed as a key cause for income and social inequality. Inequality creates many issues for states including the erosion of trust in institutions and a weakening of civic society as economic growth fails to benefit all of those involved in its production. Up to this point, there have been few studies examining why states vary in employment protection and regulation for nonstandard work. This study seeks to answer how the insider/outsider divide, left party composition and competition, unions, and corporatist institutions interact to influence the quality of nonstandard work.

I examine how the policy preferences of labor market insiders and labor market outsiders have evolved over the past 20-years in advanced industrialized countries, as well as their level of political enfranchisement. I find that labor market outsiders are more likely to support policies emphasizing job security as well as some types of social insurance (pensions), but not others (unemployment). When it comes to voter mobilization, labor market outsiders are less likely to vote than labor market insiders, and when they do vote, they are more likely to vote for parties on the left and far-left. The findings suggest economic insecurity plays a key role in voter mobilization for more extreme parties.

Additionally, this study uses a mixed methods approach to look at the role of left parties, unions, and corporatist institutions in influencing nonstandard work regulations. To do this, I first develop an index of employment regulation for part-time and temporary work. This index measures the strength of protection for nonstandard work. Next, performing a quantitative analysis of panel data, I find part-time employment regulations are higher when the state is a member of the European Union, the government is less traditional culturally and leans toward the economic left, and when union members have a strong partisan affiliation with left parties. Temporary work protections are higher when there is a greater concentration of labor market insiders in left parties or when the Social Democratic party faces an alternative-left competitor. Additionally, ideological distance on the economic dimension between Social Democratic and right parties in the long-term, as well as higher levels of deindustrialization, union density in the long-term, union affiliation with left parties and corporatist institutions are found to lead to higher levels of protections for temporary work. The results of the quantitative analysis are supported with case study research on the evolution of employment protection and regulation for nonstandard work in Australia, the Netherlands, Spain, and the United Kingdom.

Overall, this dissertation contributes to (1) the understanding of outsider partisanship and political behavior, (2) the role of the Social Democratic party and party competition in labor market reforms, (3) the role of corporatist institutions in perpetuating the insider/outsider divide (4) an understanding of union strategies and their implications for part-time and temporary employment reform.

Access Setting

Dissertation-Open Access