Symposium : Fair wage, achievable implementation?

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Symposium : Fair wage, achievable implementation?
Date / time
16/05/2024 - 17/05/2024, 9:00 am - 6:00 pm

Salaries, which concern 80 to 90% of workers in advanced countries and 30 to 40% of those in emerging countries, are very diversified and generally organized into official established or implicit salary scales with numerous classifications depending on qualification, seniority and responsibilities and it is generally accepted that engineers, e.g. are better paid than unskilled workers. However, this dispersion is increasingly called into question: between the upper and lower deciles (D9 / D1) or percentiles (C99 / C10), juniors and seniors, and between men and women (from 5% to 35% depending on the country).

Although a large part of the gaps can be explained by differences in qualification, work position or working hours, this diversity has questioned the intellectual world and society since the 19th century and the industrial revolution (Ricardo, Marx) as well as the contemporary public in its relationship with equality. In fact, is it a statistical dispersion with classic biases or real disparities and inequalities? The treatment and evaluation of this subject are not neutral and can direct companies towards dissatisfaction in the event of worsening inequality or prepare for a certain appeasement in the case of a salary remediation policy.

Can a fair pay system be a solution to both the feeling of growing wage inequality and improved growth? A fair wage is a wage that satisfies four requirements at the same time: social justice and equity, economic performance and productivity, the agreement of the parties concerned (employer, employees, union and public authorities) and a standard of living decent. Assigned to an employee, it must be able to apply to all employees in the same situation. However, fair wages themselves are also diverse: it would be a minimum wage for the laborer, an average wage for a skilled worker or a ceiling wage for a senior management salary. The problem of a fair wage concerns a fair remuneration system more than a salary taken in isolation and is presented at least as much in qualitative terms as in quantitative terms.

Historically since the 1950s, we can cite companies which have practiced a dynamic social policy intended to support direct wages (Renault, Siemens, Michelin, IKEA, Unilever, Astra), States which have sought to carry out redistribution through taxation or public spending in situations with a potential large wage gap (Scandinavian countries, Canada) or political regimes which have endeavored to significantly reduce the wage scale (socialist economies 1917-1991) with quite negative collateral effects. Since the 2000s, a general demand for fairness (commerce, work, products) has spread among citizen opinion and networks of actors promoting work and fair wages have developed.

The rapid development of emerging countries, with China in the lead, raises questions on this subject from a global perspective. What is the historical importance of these systems, their impact and can we draw up a form of assessment? Or are these very specific situations, difficult to reproduce and transpose?

Among the very many aspects that could be studied, we will mainly retain four axes that could each constitute a half-day for conference.

  1. Theories and representations of fair wages
  2. Hierarchy/differentiation of salaries (wage grids, steps, interdecile gaps, junior-senior, women-men, by sector, etc.)
  3. Fair wage companies’ practices, European social labour market
  4. Public pay equity policies: minimum wages? age and gender gap? education and training improvement

This conference is resolutely multidisciplinary. Proposals from economists, historians, sociologists, political scientists, and philosophers are welcome.

SUBMISSIONS Proposals should take the form of an abstract of between 400 and 600 words, with 3 keywords and a short bibliographical reference. Abstracts must be sent with a short CV before January 31th, 2024 to the following email addresses:,,, Submissions can be written either in English or French.

REGISTRATION FEES: 100 euros (free for PhD candidate).

Our budget is limited. Participants are expected to make their own travel arrangements and pay for their travel costs. We will provide meals and refreshments on site. If funds remain available, we will try to reimburse part of the travel. The use of video should make it possible to communicate remotely without having to incur travel costs.


The goal then being to publish a book on the subject with the main communications within a reasonable time (2025-2026), an early finalized preparation of your texts can save everyone time. For the symposium itself in May 2024, it would be necessary to provide a fairly developed version of your presentation.


November 30th, 2023: Launch of the call for papers

January 31st, 2024: End of the call for papers

March 15th, Notification of decisions to depositors

April 15th: Establishment of the final program

May 16th-17th, 2024: Conference at the Catholic Institute of Paris.