SWEDEN – A LONE BRIGHT SPOT Wage formation and labour market antagonism
Economic inequality is a problem of global concern and labour unions may have an equalising effect on gender wage-differentials. In Sweden, the gender-wage differentials underwent a significant decline between 1960 and 1980s but had despite the early progress of equalising almost stopped, near to no progress have occurred since then. The Swedish labour unions are attributed to have impacted the early development and diminish, which cause one to wonder if they are behind the halt. There is an abundance of research arguing for the correlation between the presence of women and equal outcome, a correlation that is absent in the Swedish case of wage formation. In order to clarify the paradox and contribute to existing research, this thesis approached the matter from the angle of insider-outsiders and the theory of split labour markets. Moreover, the thesis has analysed how the labour union agenda change in response to economic and political impact mechanisms and aimed to understand what the politics of presence fail to explain, why organisations implement gender equalising policies in times of low women presence while turning inwards and dismissing equalising policies in times of high women presence. Through process tracing the thesis unveiled how economic and political mechanisms change the behaviour of labour unions, and the findings indicate that economic circumstances form the boundaries in which labour unions form their agenda. The findings indicate that high economic growth is a premise for equalising policies, while recession created an environment in which solidarity is neglected.