Temporary employment

The aim of this comparative project is to study how temporary employment influences people’s employment careers and their chances of achieving a permanent establishment in the labour market.

Are fixed term contracts a gateway into permanent jobs, or a dead end locking employees into a series of temporary jobs? What are employers’ main motives and incentives to utilize fixed term contracts, and how are such decisions influenced by the employment protection legislation? How do the chances of moving from fixed term to steady labour market establishment vary between Norway and Sweden, and how are the probabilities of such transitions influenced by liberalization of the regulation of fixed term employment? Is it easier for fixed term employees than for unemployed to find steady employment? We compare Norway and Sweden because the labour markets in these countries share several characteristics, while the rules regulating the use of fixed term contracts are far more liberal in Sweden than in Norway.

The project is built on three main modules:

  • A comparative quantitative analysis of the development in labour market establishment among fixed term employees and unemployed over a period of seven years
  • A comparative qualitative study of why employers use various types of fixed term contracts, and how these motives are influenced by differences and changes in employment protection legislation
  • A quantitative study of how companies’ use of fixed term contracts influences the composition of the work force in the company and the level of mobility in and out of the company

Data sources:

We will in the comparative quantitative analysis combine information about individuals’ form of employment contract from the labour force survey (LFS) with data from public registers providing information about their degree of labour market establishment over time. The comparative quantitative analyses will take the LFS panel data, which are following individuals over 2 years and where we can identify employees with temporary contracts, as a point of departure. To this dataset we will link register based information on the degree of labour market affiliation, thereby establishing panels following each individual for 7 years. These analyses will be performed on both Norwegian and Swedish data covering the period 1992 – 2013, allowing us not only to analyse the mobility of different types of employees but also taking into consideration changes and variations in employment protection legislation and economic cycles. The quantitative analyses will be supplemented with qualitative interviews with employers in selected industries, in an effort to understand and explain what influences employers’ use of fixed term contracts and why they offer fixed term contracts to some and open ended contracts to others. The third question will be analyzed using data from the Norwegian Workplace Employment Relations surveys.


Project period

  • Start:
    August 2014
  • End:
    April 2020

Commissioned by

  • VAM-programme of the Research Council of NorwayForte, Swedish Research Council for Health, Working Life and Welfare


  • Institutionen för Arbetsvetenskap och Sociologi, Universitet i Gøteborg.

Sustainable development goals