Protecting livelihoods in the COVID-19 crisis: A comparative analysis of European labour market and social policies

This article provides a comparative study of the labour market and social policy measures introduced in light of the COVID-19 crisis in Denmark, France, Germany, Italy and the United Kingdom between March 2020 and January 2021. Its main aim is to understand whether the crisis response has changed the structures of the welfare states concerned. Focusing in particular on the differences regarding the crisis measures taken for individuals in ‘standard employment’ and ‘non-standard workers’ in each country, it argues that, although extensive temporary protection instruments were introduced for both groups during the crisis, these did not lead to an immediate convergence as regards these groups’ social protection. Rather than changing the underlying structures of welfare systems, many of the measures in fact highlighted the specific vulnerabilities of large segments of Europe’s labour markets. States have, however, granted social compensation at unprecedented levels, which could result in improved infrastructures and a clearer understanding of the responsibility of the welfare state in future emergencies.