Do labour market inequalities erode support for democracy?

Experiences and perspectives from France, Germany and Japan

The Fondation France-Japon de l'EHESS (FFJ) is pleased to present its joint workshop co-organized with the German Institute for Japanese Studies (DIJ) in Tokyo, and the Japanese-German Center Berlin (JDZB). The FFJ promotes academic collaboration between Japan and France and enhances dialogue and exchanges through an international network of public and private partners to improve the understanding of Japan. The DIJ is a German research institute based in Tokyo. Its research focuses on modern Japan in a global context. The JDZB is a non-profit foundation which aim is “to promote and deepen Japanese-German and international cooperation in the fields of science and culture[…] in particular by supporting German-Japanese mutual understanding at all levels of economic life to improve cooperation in science, research and culture”.



For decades, many policymakers and international organisation such as OECD and the IMF, have emphasised the need of structural, especially labour market reforms to improve competitiveness. While many arguments of this debate are still present today (e.g. in the current French election campaign), it is now widely accepted that growing social inequalities have contributed to an increase in income inequality and that rising inequalities in the labour market could be a major factor behind feelings of political marginalisation and alienation, vote abstention, support for extremist and/or anti-establishment parties and growing distrust in parties and democratic institutions.

However, the political consequences of growing inequality may be less clear than is often assumed. While France, Germany and Japan share many similarities with regard to their dualistic labour market structures with a strong divide between workers in good and those in insecure jobs, they are displaying different levels of support for extremist and populist parties. Japan has currently even no populist movement to speak of, yet voter turnout has fallen to historically low levels and, according to surveys, young Japanese seem increasingly indifferent to the benefits of a democratic system.

This workshop seeks to investigate links between labour market inequalities and falling support for and trust in democracy by bringing together scholars and experts from France, Germany and Japan. The aim of the workshop is two-fold: First, it seeks to establish how labour market inequalities impact politics, political participation and support of democracy in each country. Second, it addresses how different policy and regulatory regimes may contribute to alleviating socioeconomic divides and to enabling strategies to counter political marginalisation, anti-mainstream sentiment and mistrust in democracy overall.

Panel 1: Socioeconomics of labour market inequalities in France, Germany and Japan: Structure and consequences of inequality
Panel 2: Labour market inequalities and falling support for democracy: How strong is the link? Which factors explain inter-country differences?
Panel 3: Can labour market policy and regulation restore trust in democracy?



  • Philippe ASKENAZY, CNRS and ENS
  • Bruno AMABLE, University of Geneva
  • Steffen HEINRICH, German Instute for Japanese Studies (DIJ)
  • Werner PASCHA, Japanese-German Center Berlin (JDZB)
  • Hartmut SEIFERT, Institute of Economic and Social Research (WSI)
  • Toru SHINODA, Waseda University
  • Shruti SINGH, OECD
  • Koji TAKAHASHI, Japan Institute for Labour Policy and Training (JILPT)
  • Franz WALDENBERGER, German Instute for Japanese Studies (DIJ)
  • Toru YOSHIDA, Hokkaido University


The workshop is open to everyone within the limits of available seats.

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More informations

  • Friday 06 October 2017 - 09:45 to 18:30
  • Saturday 07 October 2017 - 09:30 to 12:45
  • EHESS (Salle 13) - 105, boulevard Raspail 75006 Paris
Sébastien Lechevalier