Skill-Biased Liberalization: Germany’s Transition to the Knowledge Economy

David Hope, Niccolo Durazzi, Sebastian Diessner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Citations (Scopus)
125 Downloads (Pure)


This article conceptualizes the evolution of the German political economy as the codevelopment of technological and institutional change. The notion of skill-biased liberalization is introduced to capture this process and contrasted with the two dominant theoretical frameworks employed in contemporary comparative political economy scholarship—dualization and liberalization. Integrating theories from labor economics, the article argues that the increasing centrality of high skills complementary in production to information and communications technology has weakened the traditional complementarity among specific skills, regulated industrial relations, and generous social protection in core sectors. The liberalization of industrial relations and social protection is shown in fact to be instrumental for high-end exporting firms to concentrate wages and benefits on increasingly important high-skilled workers. Strong evidence based on descriptive statistics, union and industry documents, and twenty-one elite interviews is found in support of the article’s alternative perspective.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)117-155
Number of pages39
JournalPolitics & Society
Issue number1
Early online date13 Apr 2021
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2022


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