Incentives Versus Culture? Why Turnover Intentions Differ Across European Welfare Regimes

Janine Bernhardt (IAAEG, Trier University)

Abstract: In this talk, I present an empirical study of workers’ job turnover intentions across European welfare regimes. During the last decade, flexicurity as the combination of labor market flexibility and social security has become one of the main political issues within the EU. One common rational-choice based argument is that labor market institutions create (dis)incentives for voluntary job mobility. Recent developments in political sociology challenge this assumption, suggesting that the welfare state also impacts the formation of normative expectations and value orientations. Bringing together these different theoretical perspectives and drawing on the notion of ‘policy feedback’, I explore whether turnover intentions at the micro-level can partly be explained by (1) differences in the most prominent institutional security incentives, legal job protection, unemployment benefits and activating policies, (2) differences in individual and societal normative orientations towards job flexibility, and (3) interaction effects between institutional factors and normative attitudes. Empirical analyses build on a multilevel approach and data from the cross-country comparative special Eurobarometer survey 2005 and from the OECD. The results show a significant and robust effect of normative security beliefs on turnover intention, lending support to the ‘normative feedback’ hypothesis, whereas evidence for institutional ‘incentive feedback’ is rather mixed, calling for further research.