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The third quarter of the twentieth century was a golden age for labor in the advanced industrial countries, characterized by rising incomes, relatively egalitarian wage structures, and reasonable levels of job security. The subsequent quarter-century has seen less positive performance along a number of these dimensions. This period has instead been marked by rapid globalization of economic activity that has brought increased insecurity to workers. The contributors to this volume, prominent scholars from the United States, Europe, and Japan, distinguish four explanations for this historic shift. These include 1) rapid development of new technologies; 2) global competition for both business and labor; 3) deregulation of industry with more reliance on markets; and 4) increased immigration of workers, especially unskilled workers, from developing countries. In addition to analyzing the causes of these trends, the contributors also investigate important consequences, ranging from changes in collective bargaining and employment relations to family formation decisions and incarceration policy.
Starting in the 1990s, San Francisco launched a series of bold but relatively unknown public policy experiments to improve wages and benefits for thousands of local workers. Since then, scholars have documented the effects of those policies on compensation, productivity, job creation, and health coverage. Opponents predicted a range of negative impacts, but the evidence tells a decidedly different tale. This book brings together that evidence for the first time, reviews it as a whole, and considers its lessons for local, state, and federal policymakers.