[Journal:] Zeitschrift für ArbeitsmarktForschung - Journal for Labour Market Research [ISSN:] 2510-5027 [Volume:] 43 [Year:] 2010 [Issue:] 1 [Pages:] 39-52
The paper provides a multi-disciplinary overview of normative and empirical issues concerning labor markets and inequalities in contemporary capitalist democracies. It begins with a discussion of philosophical controversies in relation to issues of distributive justice. This is followed by a review of peoples' attitudes and opinions, as revealed in surveys and experiments, concerning inequality and fairness. In regard to contributions from economics, the question is discussed whether the relationship between equality/equity and efficiency should be seen as a trade-off. Finally, the thesis is advanced that most of the inequalities (for example in relation to income, job quality, job and income security) are reflected in but not caused by labor markets; instead, the institutional framework in which the labor market is embedded (labor law, education, training, wage determination, social security etc.) is responsible for the (in)equality of outcomes, as are managerial strategies positioning jobs and their holders in firms and other organizations. In his brief conclusion, the author refrains from advocating a normative solution to the issue of distributive fairness; instead, he highlights two axes of controversy that structure the debate.