Elisabetta Gualmini Roberto Rizza

Activation, Employability and New Policy Paradigms in the Labour Market: Italy and Germany in Comparison

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The aim of this paper is to describe and compare activation policies in two European countries, Italy and Germany, which - though belonging to the same «welfare regime» - are however marked by different labour market characteristics. After a short discussion of the mainstream literature on the new employability policy paradigm, the evolution of the policies for activation will be reconstructed in detail, according to three very specific policy arenas: a) flexibility and deregulation of the labour market; b) reorganization of the placement system; c) unemployment benefits reforms. In order to investigate the very nature of the policies, some analytical dimensions will be figured out, like the new balance between rights and duties that these programmes seem to presume, the level of conditionality and the new balance between passive and active public initiatives. The main results of the paper lay in the «discovery» of some slight but highly significant differences in the way activation policies have been actually implemented and carried out. In Germany we assisted in a full and comprehensive revision of passive and active labour policies, in the name of mutual integration and coherence, whilst in Italy the massive introduction of flexibility in the labour market was not made up for any reassessment of social shock absorbers. Exactly because of that, in the final part of the paper it will be argued that the deeply rooted and highly renowned theoretical framework on the «three worlds of welfare capitalism» needs to be retouched and further debated, in favour of some less rigid and more adaptable classifications.


  • JEL Classifications: J18 - Public Policy
  • D6 - Welfare Economics
  • J24 - Human Capital
  • Skills
  • Occupational Choice
  • Labor Productivity


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