Photo Hugues Siegenthaler

5 shut down Swiss companies used as a case study on unemployment

For the thesis project of Isabel Baumann, graduate assistant at the Institute of Social Sciences at the University of Lausanne, 750 former employees of bankrupted or relocated firms in Geneva and elsewhere responded to a questionnaire on the consequences of redundancy. This survey will provide a better picture of winners and losers.

1200 people who lost their jobs after plant closures in Geneva, Bern and Solothurn between early 2009 and mid-2010 received in fall 2011 a questionnaire about their current situation on a occupational, financial and personal level. 63% of these people responded to the survey, whose data are now being analyzed as part of the thesis of Isabel Baumann, PhD student at LIVES and Life course and Social Inequality Research Center (LINES), who presented her project on February 13, 2012 during the first “Doctoriales” of NCCR LIVES.

The five companies, formerly active in the areas of machine and printing industries, have experienced different fates: at best, the employees were dismissed with six-month notice and compensation; at worse, the entire workforce lost its job from one day to another without any indemnity.

The collected data indicate that two thirds of respondents were working again at the time of the survey, about two years after the plant closure, and half had found a new job within two months. Isabel Baumann’s hypothesis is that employers hire a person more easily when dismissed collectively than another type of unemployed because they believe the candidate's personal skills were not responsible for his dismissal. This theory will be verified by comparing the sample with a database of people with a similar profile but that did not undergo mass layoffs.

Maintain the skills

Another hypothesis states that workers, who accepted a temporary job as a transitory career step, face lower wage losses than workers with the same unemployment spell but without a temporary job. "I expect this result because a temporary job prevents the loss of occupational skills, and is interpreted by employers as a signal of motivation," says the doctoral student.

The thesis of Isabel Baumann will focus on those whose wellbeing and wages have been particularly impacted, positively or negatively, by the plant closure and reintegration to the labor market. 20% of workers have finally found a better paying job and 30% suffer wage losses. Among these, the doctoral student expects to see especially the low skilled, the older people, those who don’t speak well the local language or those having remained long in the same job, whose occupational skills are less easy to transfer. On the contrary, it is expected that the winners will be overrepresented among people with more general skills such as management, supervision or communication.

Concerning the impacts on social life and health, the relationships with friends and family were relatively unaffected by the event, contrary to the psychological health, which is most impacted, positively or negatively, by redundancy and its consequences. A closer analysis of the results will help better understand these mechanisms.

Photo Hugues Siegenthaler

The city of Lausanne participates to a study on the impact of paternity leave

During the NCCR LIVES’ 2012 “Doctoriales”, from February 13 to 14, Isabel Valarino presented a thesis project which aims to analyze the influence of the emergence of parental leave on the representations and practices of fatherhood. 20 fathers working in the administration of Lausanne will be interviewed.

Graduate assistant at the Life and Social Inequality Research Center (LINES) and member of LIVES’ IP 6, "Vulnerability at the interface of family and professional life: Gender and occupational differentials”, Isabel Valarino recently received the agreement of the Municipality to access the young fathers of the Lausanne's administration. In the coming months, she plans to interview 20 men who took advantage of paternity leave and 5 managers who have dealt with his absence. The City of Lausanne has been offering since mid-2010 a 21-day paternity leave to male employees, who represent a potential of nearly 100 people per year.

These qualitative interviews are one focus of the researcher, who will also conduct a quantitative study of all men who beneficiated of the paternity leave provided by the City of Lausanne, in order to compare those who took three full weeks with those who decided to quit only for a few days. In her thesis, the PhD student is also interested in the evolution of cultural values carried by the debate on paternity leave in the media, and the evolution of political and institutional debate, which is analyzed on the basis of various interventions at the federal Parliament and answers which followed.

According to Isabel Valarino, "Parental leave policies in Switzerland are gendered. Currently mothers only are defined as legitimate caregivers by the law." However, she assumes that although Switzerland, unlike many of its European neighbors, has yet no paternity or parental leave provided for by law, the debate surrounding this issue and the introduction of voluntary or negotiated right by some employers nevertheless participate in constructing representations and practices of fatherhood, going towards a greater investment of men in the education of their children.

Photo Hugues Siegenthaler

LIVES’ PhD students or affiliated confront their thesis project to experts

The “Doctoriales” 2012 of the NCCR hosted by the Universities of Lausanne and Geneva enabled 56 graduate students to present the status of their work to eminent representatives of the social sciences. Two days of stress, but also of fun.

Knotted stomachs, rashes and palpitations were the order of the first “Doctoriales” of NCCR LIVES on 13 and 14 February, 2012 in Lausanne. Interviewed by two experts per session, 56 doctoral students had 20 minutes to explain their research - its methodological framework, its methodology, its first results. Most presentations were held in English, the language of much of the expert - LIVES project managers or Advisory Board members from European and American universities.

"It was a good exercise in scale," says a French student, "but also an additional source of stress," adds a fellow Hispanic. Both note that the level of debate may have suffered from low oral expression and comprehension by the students. "I did not catch all the comments that were made about my work, one must admit, but I learned a lot after the session by talking face to face with an expert, who gave me excellent bibliographic advices and indicated a database that I did not know."

The presentations covered a wide range of issues addressed by the National Center of Competence in Research: family, work, health, migration, ages and methodology, almost always with the issue of vulnerability in the background. For PhD students, it was interesting to get feedback from other disciplines than their own: sociologists were interviewed by epidemiologists, demographers by economists, etc.

"A LIVES spirit"

In addition to promoting exchanges with renowned professors from several branches of the humanities, the “Doctoriales” were appreciated by the young researchers for the sheer pleasure of being among peers - usually in multiple locations -, to share their difficulties and learn from the others’ research during the sessions and outside, in the hallways or during meals. "It's good to compare themselves to others," said a fourth year doctoral student, "and it was simply cool to be all together. "

"We think that these Doctoriales helped to develop a LIVES spirit ", said after at the end of the two days Prof. Michel Oris, co-director of the center, and Delphine Fagot, head of the doctoral program, concluding: "What struck me is the playful side these days, despite the general stress... "

Two members of LIVES publish a book on family care for the elderly

Two members of LIVES publish a book on family care for the elderly

The results of the study SwissAgeCare / AgeCare Switzerland Latin, commissioned by the association of home care in Switzerland, were published in January 2012 by Hans Huber editions.

Edited by professors Pasqualina Perrig-Chiello and François Höpflinger, both members of the NCCR LIVES, with a foreword by Dr. Stephanie Mörikofer-Zwez, former president of the Swiss support services and home care, the book "Familial caregivers of elderly persons. Problems, needs, resources and cooperation with home-care professionals" is part of the series "Practical Nursing".
The research team from the Universities of Bern and Zürich highlights the problems, needs, resources, and the living conditions of family cargivers of elderly persons and their collaboration with home-care professionals. Thus, demographic, epidemiological and social developments are described and analyzed, as well as their impact on current and future needs of family caregiving and professional home-care. The study also highlights who is responsible of the familal care , how, why and under which conditions. This broadens the scope of action in view of a precise support, adapted to the demand and of a discharge of family caregivers.

NCCR's vice-director on the front page of UNIL's website

A portrait of Prof. Laura Bernardi retraces his biography from Rome to Lausanne via Belgium, the United States and Germany. A trajectory marked by the interest for mixed methods for this demographer inspired by anthropology and specialized in fertility issues.

See the portrait of prof. Laura-Bernardi, vice-director of NCCR LIVES, published by the Office of european research projects of University of Lausanne (Euresearch).

Professor Dario Spini invited to the Black Movie Festival in Geneva

The director of the NCCR LIVES will participate in a roundtable on the theme of "Figures of alienation" with the professors Sandro Cattacin and Jean Ziegler on February 21, 2012.

Resolutely against the current standardized cinemas, innovative, uninhibited, Black Movie offers each year for 10 days a program of emerging talents and established filmmakers whose films remain unreleased in Switzerland. Anchored in the contemporary world, a reflection of its aesthetic and social movements, it develops a thematic approach and focuses its sections around social issues or current events.

From February 17 to 27, the festival will offer about sixty films, including 10 in competition, plus a series of children's films as well as workshops and concerts. Twenty filmmakers will be present and two roundtables organized.

The one on the figures of alienation, February 21 at 7 pm to Function: Cinema, Grütli Art House, will bring together three experts in various fields of investigation: the economy with Jean Ziegler, the sociology with Sandro Cattacin and the psychology with Dario Spini, director of the NCCR "LIVES - Overcoming Vulnerability: Life Course Perspectives." This debate is co-organized with the bi-monthly La Cité and will be led by Isabelle Csupor sociologist.

See the full program of the festival

NCCR LIVES organizes its first "Doctoriales"

On 13 and 14 February 2012 in Vidy (Lausanne), 57 LIVES doctoral students or affiliated to this National Centre of Competence in Research (NCCR) will present their thesis project in front of a series of experts. The program is available.

In four parallel sessions per half day, PhD candidates will present the status of their research as part of a wide range of themes covered by the NCCR "LIVES - Overcoming Vulnerability, lifecourse perspectives": marriage, parenting, passage to adulthood, old age, social inequality, career paths, unemployment, migration...

They will be heard by a series of internal and external experts to LIVES, a total of 24 professors and researchers in sociology, psychology, social psychology, demography, socio-economics.

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Looking at the social networks of unemployed people in Vaud

A questionnaire will be distributed to 5000 people looking for work during the months of February and March 2012, first step in an analysis of the impact of links with the human environment in access to employment. A project of the NCCR LIVES, hosted by the Universities of Lausanne and Geneva.

As from February 1st, 2012, and for two months, the newly unemployed people following the collective briefing on the unemployment insurance of Canton de Vaud (a meeting named “SICORP”, gateway to accessing the unemployment benefits), will receive a questionnaire of ten pages with multiple choice questions about their social network at large (parents, friends, neighbors, former colleagues, community associations, etc.). Participants will have twenty minutes to complete this survey related to the NCCR LIVES individual project (IP) No 4, directed by Professor Jean-Marc Falter, entitled Economic inequalities: Towards pathways out of vulnerabilityy.

During the next twelve months, people having found a new job will receive a second questionnaire. Those who are still unemployed after one year will receive a third type of form at the end of these twelve months, step considered as the transition to long-term unemployment.

Led by doctoral students Anna Von Ow and Nicolas Turtschi with post-doc Patrick Arni under the guidance of professors Giuliano Bonoli, Rafael Lalive and Daniel Oesch, such a survey on social networks and access to employment has never been done yet in Switzerland. "To our knowledge, only four studies were conducted in the world on the subject, but in different contexts," says Nicolas Turtschi, who holds a master's degree in social sciences.

The power of close relationships

The project is a continuation of the theory of Mark Granovetter on the strength of weak ties. In the early 70's, the latter argued that the distant network of a person - weak links - better than the closest - strong links – give better access to the flow of information, necessary process in reaching employment. Indeed, the usual circle of relationships does generally not bring new useful information. This theory is now called into question because it is believed that the group of intimates has other functions: it will be easier for example to be recommended by a relative than by a vague acquaintance.

The first data collected in the survey will be coded quickly, with the participation of two students from the IDHEAP and analyzed in conjunction with the results of the other two questionnaires. In parallel, Nicolas Turtschi will conduct qualitative interviews with about forty people suffering from the greatest obstacles to employment integration (age, education level, migration patterns, etc.).

Finally, a test will be conducted on the impact of information on the activation of social networks. Half of the hundred SICORP conducted in February and March will offer an awareness module given by the advisors of the regional employment offices (ORP). It will be possible to compare the results of those encouraged to mobilize their communities with those of the unemployed who have not had this type of incentive. This measure is of great interest to the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO), which funds a part of the project.

The State of Canton de Vaud was another valuable ally of the research. "We have excellent contacts with the Employment Service, who supported us, and with the nearly 60 ORP counselors involved throughout the territory, whom we met in January for a half day. They were extremely motivated and positive", says Nicolas Turtschi.