That project is now essentially complete. Five volumes have been published (one on low-wage work in each of the European countries)and the final explicitly comparative volume is expected next spring. In this lecture I plan to review a few of the main conclusions that seem to emerge.
For example, the incidence of low-wage work varies dramatically from country to country: there is proportionally three times as much low-wage work in the U.S. as in Denmark, with the other countries scattered between those extremes. The trend is generally, though not universally, upward; some countries have gone from relatively low incidence to relatively high incidence in a matter of a few decades. There are also cross-country similarities, in the role of women, the young, and immigrants for instance. We find that the conventional contrast between low wages and high employment of unskilled workers in the U.S. versus higher wages and low employment in Europe is not nearly as clear as expected. The research also explores the important role of minimum wages, collective bargaining, and public provision of health care and pensions.