Department of Comparative Politics

Illuminated the politics of low-wage employment

Georg Picot’s WAGEREG project has come to an end.

Picture of Georg Picot in his office.
Magnus Buseth Danielsen (UiB).

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The WAGEREG project, “Bringing in the state: The politics of wage regulation and low-wage employment” started December 2018 and ended in the end of 2023. It was led by Georg Picot, Professor in Comparative Politics at University of Bergen, funded by the FRIHUMSAM Young Research Talents scheme of the Research Council of Norway.

The overarching objectives of WAGEREG were to develop a new understanding of state regulation of wages and to explain variation in state regulation of wages, in particular with regard to low-wage employment. More specifically, the project aimed to illuminate how states tackle the challenge of low-wage employment. Furthermore, it sought to explain why states differ in the tools they use to regulate low pay.

–  In many states outside of Scandinavia, minimum wages have become an important tool for regulating labour markets. I started this project because there was extremely little research about the politics behind minimum wages and related policies, says Georg Picot.

The project used quantitative methods, examining 33 developed countries, as well as qualitative methods to study United Kingdom and Norway in more detail.

Covid-19 challenges

A specific challenge was of course that the Covid-19 pandemic broke out during the second project year, and strongly affected two years of the project. Consequently, the project had to scale down the plans for the case studies, due to limitations on field work. But by and large, the project could be implemented as planned.

– We had to adjust a bit, but I am glad we managed to conduct the project successfully notwithstanding the difficult circumstances.


Apart from Georg Picot, Siri Hansen Pedersen was employed on the PhD position that was part of the project. In her dissertation, she examined policies to address wage inequality. Joan Abbas was employed as postdoctoral fellow during parts of the project. And the master student Balder Blinkenberg contributed as a research assistant.

The conducted research has until now led to four articles in international peer-reviewed journals and two chapters in volumes published by highly regarded academic publishers. Moreover, nine research papers are at different stages of the publication process, with the aim to be published in international peer-reviewed journals. Picot and Pedersen also published a policy brief through the European Trade Union Institute (ETUI), whose publications are widely read by academics, trade unionists, and policymakers across Europe.

Overall, the project has highlighted the various ways in which states can affect low-wage employment, provided important insights into the politics of this policy field, and offered new reflections on what minimum wages are good for but also their limitations.

– It was a great pleasure running this project, collaborating with amazing colleagues, and pushing the frontier in a new field of research, Picot says.