Photo Gina Sanders -

Participating in extensive European research project on family

How will families look like in the future? Are existing social- and family policies compatible with changes in family patterns? A major European research project will be launched in February 2013. Four scholars of the University of Lausanne, linked to the Swiss National Centre of Competence in Research LIVES, take part to the project.

Coordinated by Livia Oláh, Professor at the Stockholm University Demography Unit (SUDA), Dept. of Sociology, researchers from 25 leading universities and research institutes in 15 European countries and three transnational civil society organizations will work together within the project entitled “FamiliesAnd Societies - Changing families and sustainable societies: Policy contexts and diversity over the life course and across generations”. The project has secured a grant of €6.5m from the EU’s Seventh Framework Programme for a four-year period.

The University of Lausanne is involved with four researchers: Prof. Laura Bernardi, NCCR LIVES vice-director, Dr. Doris Hanappi, LIVES post-doc researcher, Eder Andres Guarin and Isabel Valarino, both registered at the LIVES Doctoral Programme.

“Our approach is multidisciplinary combining a wide range of expertise in social sciences, law and the humanities. We will conduct comparative analyses applying advanced quantitative methods to high quality register and survey data, and also conduct qualitative studies,” says project coordinator Livia Oláh.

The project will explore the growing complexity of family configurations and transitions across and within European societies and examine their implications for children, women and men with respect to inequalities in life chances, intergenerational relations and care arrangements. The researchers will also investigate how policies address family diversity and its consequences, and identify likely paths of future changes in family compositions and related policy needs. The aim is to assess the compatibility of existing policies with the increasingly diverse and complex family life courses in Europe, and to contribute to evidence-based policy-making.

NCCR LIVES contributions

Laura Bernardi’s and Doris Hanappi’s project addresses the consequences of economic change on professional and family outcomes (namely later ages at birth,, increasing childlessness). They will contribute to the literature investigating the coping strategies for family and work reconciliation under conditions of job uncertainty, precariousness, and insecurity. They study what kinds of resources are activated and what is the impact on the “new” role of men and women in contemporary Switzerland. The project exploits data from the Swiss Household Panel (SHP) in comparison with other EU countries datasets.

Isabel Valarino’s project explores the challenging potential of parental leave policies emergence in Switzerland for the gender structure and the shaping of fatherhood and motherhood. The research project addresses this question through a case study in a local public administration, the City of Lausanne, that has implemented a far-ranging work-family life policy and recently extended its paid paternity leave. The research design aims at analyzing both the construction and shaping of fatherhood at the macro- and meso-levels, as well as documenting fatherhood experiences at the micro-level (semi-structured interviews, with a strong focus on the subjective perceptions of key informants).

Eder Andres Guarin’s project focuses on the participation in Swiss society of young adults of second- generation immigrant backgrounds. It is interested in the relationship between life courses and vulnerability at the moment of transition from youth to adulthood. The aim is to understand the main resources these young adults have, how they mobilize their social capital, what main obstacles they meet and what the main outcomes in the process of entering adult life are. The project will use existing quantitative data sets applying first multivariate analyses (e.g., Swiss Labour Force Survey - SFLS, SHP), logistic regressions and event history analysis.

New databases

Two new databases will be developed within the project “FamiliesAnd Societies - Changing families and sustainable societies: Policy contexts and diversity over the life course and across generations”. One will gather legal content of family forms available in European countries, and another will contain data on EC/EU initiatives in core family-policy areas covering the period from 1957 to the present.

All major European regions are represented in the project governance. Together with various stakeholders, government agencies, national and local policy-makers, non-governmental organizations and additional members of the scientific community across Europe, the project will identify and disseminate innovation and best policy practices.

For further information