Stockholm university

Tomas KorpiProfessor

About me


Research and teaching
Research interests focus on processes related to mobility and inequality on the labor market. This spans both macro level events such as industrial restructuring and globalization as well as micro level processes such as the psychology of unemployment and skill match. It also includes the relationship between inequality and public policy, primarily in the form of education and labor market programs.

Previously Director of Undergraduate Studies for SOFI's program in Labor Relations and Human Resource Management (AKPA). Courses taught include undergraduate and graduate level courses in comparative industrial relations, public policy and social stratification, labor economics as well as in quantitative methods.

Other professional appointments

Member of the scientific advisory board of the Institute for Evaluation of Labour Market and Education Policy (IFAU)


Currently principal investigator (PI) for the reseach program "Sustainable synergies: A comparative perspective on Swedish social policy to develop inclusive programmes for an extended working life" (SUSTAIN) funded by the Swedish Research Council for Health, Working Life and Welfare (Forte, grant no. 2023-53). The aim of the program, which started in July 2023, is to study how the welfare system can be developed to support a sustainable working life for everyone. The program encompasses international comparative research as well as in-depth analyses of Sweden and a selection of other countries. In focus are the working-life transitions individuals maker during their life course; from school to work, from family formation back to work, from one occupation to another, from ill health to work, and finally from work to retirement. Many of them are said to have become increasingly risky, and policies supporting individuals during these life phases needed. The program studies the design and functioning of such policies in different countries, particularly focuing on the interplay between different types of policies. Such interplay can occur during a particular phase (e.g. childcare and labor market training) and across life phases (e.g. early and later training). Analyses of interplays of this kind are so far limited, and the broad, comparative, nature of the program, and the combination of micro and macro data, will show where there may be cracks in the system and how prepared the Swedish welfare state is to address these challenges.

Currently also PI for the project "Unions and the Educational Wage Premium: Collective Bargaining and Wage Inequality in the Knowledge Economy" funded by Riksbankens Jubileumsfond (RJ, grant no. P22-0697). Declining unionization has led to rising wage inequality. While most analyses of union effects have focused on low-wage workers, increasing wage inequality has also included growing differences between college and non-college educated workers. The role of unions, and wage bargaining more generally, in shaping these educational wage premium has however so far remained unexplored. This project, initated in 2023, aims to examine these issues using a comparative approach, relating changes in the educational wage premium between 2002 and 2020 to changes in union membership composition, union organizational structure, and wage bargaining structure in a selection of industrialized countries.

Furthermore PI for the project "Providing resources to vulnerable groups: complex individual problems meet fragmented local structures" recently funded by the Swedish Research Council (VR, grant no. 2023-1587). The project focuses on the extent to which different political and administrative structures in Swedish municipalities meet the needs of vulnerable groups with complex and cross-sectorial problems, specifically the allocation of resources to youth not in education, employment or training (NEET).

Also participating in the project "Student funding, welfare, and participation in higher education" funded by the Swedish Research Council for Health, Working Life and Welfare (Forte, grant no. 2022-750). This project, which also started in 2023, will study the relationship between student funding policy, viz. the distribution of study costs between state, families and students, and outcomes with regard to participation in higher education, students’ living conditions, and study outcomes. This project is also comparative, focusing on Europe between 2005 and 2020.

Finally participating the project "A sustainable and inclusive working life. Local and regional workplace inclusion practices for long-term social assistance recipients in Sweden" recently funded by the Swedish Research Council (VR, grant no. 2023-1311). This project intends to co-create new knowledge about practices for workplace inclusion for longterm social assistance recipients, and study how these practices vary depending on labor market conditions.

Recently completed projects include "Beyond good examples: Analyses of local variation in measures aimed at youths not in employment, education, or training" funded by the Swedish Research Council for Health, Working Life and Welfare (FORTE, grant no. 2017-457) and supported by the Institute for Evaluation of Labour Market and Education Policy (IFAU) (project no. 218/2018). The project aimed to examine the extent to which differences in the content of local NEET measures, their governance and functioning at the local level contribute to the variation in NEET rates across Sweden.

Work in progress

  • Education Expansion, Technical Change, and Job Complexity
  • Skill mismatch in Europe: Educational attainment, educational expansion and skill utilization
  • The importance of territorial capacity for local variation of NEET rates
  • Complementary policy fields in action: Local policies targeted at multi-prolem NEETs. Working paper 2024:01. Department of Social Work, Stockholm University.

Selected publications

Skills and macro-level economic inequality. In M. Tåhlin (ed.), A research agenda on skills and inequality (2023), Cheltenham, UK: Elgar (with M. Tåhlin and J. Westerman) (download)

Local governance assisting vulnerable groups: The case of youths not in employment, eduction and training (NEETs) in Sweden. International Journal of Social Welfare (2022) (with C. Mellberg, R. Minas, and L. Andersson) (download)

On-the-job training: A skill match approach to the determinants of lifelong learning. Industrial Relations Journal (2021), 52: 64-81 (with M. Tåhlin) (download)

The Social Policy Indicators (SPIN) database. International Journal of Social Welfare (2020), 29: 285-289 (with D. Fredriksson, W. Korpi, K. Nelson, J. Palme, and O. Sjöberg) (download)

Student support and tuition fee systems in comparative perspective. Studies in Higher Education (2020),  46: 2152-2166 (with K. Czarnecki and K. Nelson) (download)

Immigration and integration policy and labour market attainment among immigrants to Scandinavia. European Journal of Population (2019), 35: 305-328 (with V. Jacobsen and T. Lorentzen) (download)

The Governance of Poverty: Welfare Reform, Activation Policies, and Social Assistance Benefits and Caseloads in Nordic Countries. Journal of European Social Policy (2018), 28: 487-500 (with R. Minas, V. Jacobsen, T. Lorentzen, T. Kauppinen) (download)

Att möta globaliseringen: Utbildning, aktivering och social exkludering i Norden. TemaNord 2015:534, (2015), Copenhagen: Nordic Council of Ministers (with O. Bäckman and R. Minas) (download)

Rescaling inequality? Welfare reform and local variation in social assistance payments. In K. Farnsworth et al. (eds.), Social Policy Review 26 (2014), Bristol: Policy (with R. Minas, O. Bäckman, V. Jacobsen, T. Lorentzen and T. Kauppinnen)

A Capital-Labor Accord on Financialization? The Growth and Impact of Alternative Investment Funds in Sweden. In H. Gospel et al. (eds.), Financialisation, New Investment Funds, and Labour: An International Comparison (2014), Oxford: Oxford University Press

Importing Skills: Migration Policy, Generic Skills and Earnings among Immigrants in Australasia, Europe and North America. In J. Leschke et al. (eds.), Migration and Labour Markets in Troubled Times: Skills Mismatch, Return Migration and Policy Responses (2012), Surrey: Ashgate (download WP version)

Changing Work-Life Inequality in Sweden: Globalization and other Causes. In H.-P. Blossfeld et al. (eds.), Globalized Labour Markets and Social Inequality in Europe: A Comparative Analysis (2011), Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan (with M. Tåhlin)

Globalization and Uncertainty. Earnings and Employment Volatility in Sweden, 1985-2003. Industrial Relations (2010), 49: 165-189 (with M. Hällsten and M. Tåhlin) (download)

Sweden. In H. Gospel et al. (eds.), The impact of investment funds on restructuring practices and employment levels (2010), Dublin: Eurofound (download)

Educational Mismatch, Wages, and Wage Growth: Overeducation in Sweden 1974 - 2000. Labour Economics (2009), 16: 183-193 (with M. Tåhlin) (download)

The Accumulation of Social Problems: Multiple Deprivation in Sweden 1974 - 2000. International Journal of Social Welfare (2007), 16: S91-S104 (with K. Nelson and S.-Å. Stenberg) (download)

The Impact of Globalization on Mens' Job Mobility in Sweden. In H.-P. Blossfeld et al. (eds.), Globalization, Uncertainty and Men's Careers: An International Comparison (2006), London: Elgar (with M. Tåhlin)

Women’s Employment in Sweden: Globalization, Deindustrialization, and the Labor Market Experiences of Swedish Women 1950 – 2000. In H.-P. Blossfeld and H. Hofmeister (eds.), Globalization, Uncertainty, and Women’s Careers: An International Comparison (2006), Cheltenham, UK and Northampton, MA, USA: Edward Elgar (with C. Stern)

Training Systems and Labor Mobility: A Comparison between Germany and Sweden. Scandinavian Journal of Economics (2003), 105: 597–617 (with A. Mertens) (download)

Vocational Training and Career Employment Precariousness in Great Britain, the Netherlands and Sweden. Acta Sociologica, (2003) 46: 17 – 30. (with P. De Graaf, J. Hendrickx, and R. Layte) (download)

Precarious Footing: Temporary Employment as a Stepping Stone out of Unemployment in Sweden. Work, Employment and Society (2001), 15: 127–148 (with H. Levin) (download)

Good Friends in Bad Times: Social Networks and Job Search among Unemployed in Sweden. Acta Sociologica (2001), 44: 157–170 (download)

Accumulating Disadvantage: Longitudinal Analyses of Unemployment and Physical Health in a Representative Sample of the Swedish Population. European Sociological Review (2001), 17: 255–273 (download)

Is Utility related to Employment Status? Employment, Unemployment, Labor Market Policies, and Subjective Well-being among Swedish Youth. Labour Economics (1997), 4: 125-147 (download)

Effects of Manpower Policies on Duration Dependence in Re-employment rates: The example of Sweden. Economica (1995), 62: 353-371 (download)

Research projects