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Journal Article

The New Political Economy of Public Sector Wage-Setting in Europe: Introduction to the Special Issue


Di Carlo,  Donato       
Politische Ökonomie der europäischen Integration, MPI for the Study of Societies, Max Planck Society;
Luiss Guido Carli, Rome, Italy;

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Di Carlo, D., Ibsen, C. L., & Molina, O. (2024). The New Political Economy of Public Sector Wage-Setting in Europe: Introduction to the Special Issue. European Journal of Industrial Relations, 30(1), 5-30. doi:10.1177/09596801231218673.

Cite as: https://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-000E-0A0E-9
This special issue (SI) brings the industrial relations scholarship on the public sector into dialogue with the comparative political economy (CPE) literature on growth models/regimes. While the former has paid great attention to the public sector, in CPE the public sector has been analysed less, and mostly as subaltern to the export-sector’s actors, interests and institutions. We posit that the public sector matters for CPE in its own right for three reasons. First, the state remains today the single largest employer in virtually every European economy, providing incomes to a large segment of the middle class. Second, public employers’ wage bill – one of the largest items of governments’ current expenditures – is funded by the taxpayers. Hence, public sector wage policy is fiscal policy, ultimately pursued by public/political employers. Third, public employers are simultaneously public managers and political sovereigns acting in the shadow of hierarchy. Case-study contributions to the SI detail how these insights matter within different European growth regimes: (1) the Mediterranean demand-led growth regime (France, Italy, Spain and Portugal), (2) the German export-led growth regime, (3) the Nordic balanced growth regime (Denmark and Sweden) and (4) the FDI-led Eastern European growth regime (Czechia and Slovakia).