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

LIVES Researchers organize workshops at the Congress of the Swiss Society of Sociology

The Congress of the SSS will be held on June 26 to 28, 2013 at the University of Bern. Communication calls are initiated by members of the NCCR LIVES for a workshop on issues of the Swiss retirement policy development and a workshop on life course and social inequalities.

After having brilliantly outlined his vision of precariousness in October 2012 at the Lausanne Symposium on Poverty co-organized by the NCCR LIVES, French sociologist Serge Paugam will open the Congress of the Swiss Society of Sociology on June 26, 2013 at the University of Bern.

During these two and a half days of conference, about fifty workshops are organized by Swiss and international academics.

The workshop No. 35 will focus on life course and social inequalities. It is organized by Jacques-Antoine Gauthier, senior lecturer at the University of Lausanne and a researcher at NCCR LIVES IP 1, 6, 14 and 15.

The workshop No. 56 will concern issues of the development of the Swiss retirement policy. It is organized by Jean-François Bickel, Professor at the University of Applied Sciences Fribourg for Social Work and a member of NCCR LIVES IP 5 and 13, Prof. René Knüsel and Dr. Beatrice Steiner from the Institute of Social Sciences of the University of Lausanne, as well as Laure Kaeser, LIVES doctoral student in IP 13.

Their call for papers can be found on the website of the SSS Congress. The deadline for proposals is 28 February 2013.


LIVES members present their research using Swiss Household Panel data

The 7th International Conference of Panel Data Users in Switzerland will take place on February 14-15, 2013 at the University of Lausanne. Several LIVES members will present a paper during this event organized by the Swiss Centre of Expertise in the Social Sciences FORS.

The 7th International Conference of Panel Data Users in Switzerland will take place on February 14 and 15, 2013 at the University of Lausanne, Anthropole Building, rooms 3068, 3088, 2064. This event is organized by FORS every two years.

The Keynote speakers will be Jennifer Fitzgerald (Associate Professor of Political Science, University of Colorado at Boulder, USA), and Peter Lynn (Professor of Survey Methodology, ISER, University of Essex, UK)

The sessions will be dedicated to the following topics:

  •  Ethnic minorities (Dr. Eva Green)
  •  Family and gender (Dr. Marieke Voorpostel)
  •  Health and quality of life (Prof. Christian Suter)
  •  Inequality and poverty (Prof. Monica Budowski)
  •  Labour market (Dr. Giovanni Ferro-Luzzi)
  •  Life course analysis (Prof. Laura Bernardi)
  •  Politics and attitudes (Prof. Jennifer Fitzgerald)
  •  Survey methodology (Prof. Peter Lynn)

The following LIVES members and participants in the LIVES doctoral program will present a paper:

  • Dario Spini, Laura Bernardi, University of Lausanne (with Mario Lucchini, Christine Butti, Jenny Assi of the Department of Business and Social Sciences, University of Applied Science and Arts of Southern Switzerland):
    "Multidimensional Deprivation in Contemporary Switzerland Across Social Groups and Time"
  • Emmanuel Rousseaux, Gilbert Ritschard, University of Geneva:
    "The Dataset Project: Handling survey data in R"
  • Ignacio Madero Cabib, Jacques-Antoine Gauthier, Jean-Marie Le-Goff, Francesco Laganà, University of Lausanne:
    "Becoming Retired in Switzerland: About the Labour Retirement Process and their Social Determinants"
  • Stephanie Glaeser, Guy Elcheroth, University of Lausanne:
    "Social trust – enabling or hindering collective action?"
  • Andrès Guarin, Francesco Laganà, University of Lausanne:
    "Timing of labour market entry and quality of work for the second-generations in Switzerland"
  • Francesco Laganà, University of Lausanne:
    "Explaining second-generation immigrants educational disadvantage: A comparison between three social mechanisms"
  • Julie Falcon, University of Lausanne:
    "Are there cumulative and compensatory effects in the intergenerational social mobility process?"
    "What is the mediating effect of education in the intergenerational social mobility process? Analysing trends in the OED association in Switzerland"

Public lectures on vulnerabilities at the University of Geneva

During the Spring semester 2013, twelve public lectures - some in English - on the topic of vulnerabilities in the life course will be held at Uni Mail, with national and international experts from several disciplines. Starting February 21 with Dario Spini, director of NCCR LIVES.

The NCCR LIVES and the Institute for Demographic and Life Course Studies at the University of Geneva (I-Démo) organize a series of conferences on the theme of vulnerabilities in the life course. National and international experts from different disciplines will present their approach to vulnerability in the life course. The lectures are open to the general public and all interested persons are cordially invited.

After each presentation, exchanges will follow between experts and the audience on the following topics: How to identify vulnerabilities in the life course? What causes social and economic vulnerabilities? Vulnerabilities, a question of age, stage or life transition? The influence of the home environment, a fate? What resources, capabilities and resilience of individuals faced with adversity? Social policy, always brake on vulnerabilities? This series of lectures aims to explore these questions.


Dario SPINI, Jean François BICKEL, Marianne MODAK, Serge PAUGAM, Alice DEBAUCHE, Jonathan GERSHUNY*, Glen ELDER*, Johannes HUININK*, Philippe WANNER, Bernard LAHIRE, Carol SMART*, Danilo MARTUCCELLI

* Some lectures are in English.

This lecture series is organized by Professors Eric Widmer and Michel Oris , in collaboration with the NCCR LIVES PhD students Manuela Schicka and Jana Veselá.

Photo © iStock Alija
Photo © LVES Hugues Siegenthaler
Photo © LVES Felix Imhof

Immigrant elders in Switzerland feel much less healthy than senior nationals

An article written by Laure Kaeser and Claudio Bolzman, based on the data of the study Vivre / Leben / Vivere (VLV), will be presented during the Conference “Migration and Well-being: Research Frontiers” taking place in Tel Aviv (Israel) from January 8 to 10, 2013.

The Conference Migration and Well-being: Research Frontiers is organized by the Tel Aviv University and the Research Committee on Sociology of Migration (RC31) of the International Sociological Association. The topics range from the impact of xenophobia and exclusion on the wellbeing of immigrants to facing ill health and poverty in host societies and the growing role of immigrants in care-providing industries.

LIVES PhD student Laure Kaeser will present an article written with prof. Claudio Bolzman, which is entitled “Access to the Well-being of Elderly Immigrants in Switzerland”. This contribution shows preliminary descriptive results originating from the study Vivre / Leben / Vivere (VLV) conducted by the Centre for the interdisciplinary study of gerontology and vulnerability (CIGEV), in collaboration with the National Center of Competence in Research LIVES and the University of Applied Sciences and Arts Western Switzerland.

The VLV survey investigates, among other things, whether the trends noted for the general population are similar to those found for elderly immigrants. The main survey was conducted in 2011 and 2012 on a sample of 3’600 respondents aged 65 and above, living in French-, Italian- and German-speaking Switzerland. An oversample of approximately 300 immigrant elders, native of Italy, Spain, and Portugal, took place in Geneva and Basel.

Health problems occur at an earlier stage

The preliminary results show that immigrant elders aged between 65 and 79 years old have a self-assessed health age worse than the one of national residents aged over 80.

For several physical problems, this certainly has to do with their professional trajectories. Most of them were employed in specific sectors of the economy (industry, building, hotels and catering, cleaning, etc.) and low-skilled manual jobs.

The prevalence of depressive symptoms is also higher in the entire foreign population. They are more or less as worried as the national population for each canton, but the depressive status is much more prevalent for elderly immigrants than for nationals.

Prevalence of socio-economic difficulties

Previous surveys indicated that many of immigrant elders approaching retirement were in precarious social and economic position or outright poverty. VLV results lead in the same direction: beyond retirement age, immigrant elders are still among people in precariousness situation, despite the fact that they have become pensioners.

Next step: qualitative interviews

The goal of this paper was to do the groundwork on the current situation of immigrant elders aged over 65 in Switzerland. In the near future, the team plans to go into the analyses in greater depth, by analysing how other variables as socio-professional status and gender play a major role in explaining the living conditions of immigrant elders. In 2013, immigrant elders from the quantitative sample will undergo qualitative interviews in order to allow a better understanding of the quantitative results.