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Years of economic boom increase income inequality

The second issue in the series Social Change in Switzerland is devoted to a study by Ursina Kuhn (FORS) and Christian Suter (University of Neuchâtel) that describes the development of income inequality in Switzerland over a period of more than twenty years. The study used eight different sets of data, thus providing the most comprehensive analysis to date of the development of income inequality since 1990. In contrast to earlier studies, it covers a longer period and differing data sets. The authors show that income inequality increases during times of economic boom as it is mainly the top earners that benefit from economic growth.

Several studies have examined income inequality in Switzerland in recent years. However, these studies delivered inconsistent results as they related to different, mostly short periods and were based on a variety of data sources. This study is the first to describe the period since 1990 and uses all the representative data sources in Switzerland that contain information on income. These comprise seven national studies and the tax data.

In addition, this investigation not only takes into account income from work but also disposable household income, which includes capital income, pensions, social welfare, stipends and private transfers. Taxes, contributions to social insurance and compulsory health insurance premiums were deducted.

The study shows that in 2012 the extent of inequality was at a similar level to the level at the beginning of the 1990s. Between these two points in time, income inequality developed in parallel to the economic climate. During times of economic boom, inequality increased; the gap between high and low incomes became ever wider. The reason for this is that top earners benefited from capital income and bonuses. During the crisis years on the other hand, the incomes of poorer households were supported by social policies, in particular through unemployment insurance, social welfare and old-age pensions.

A comparison of the distribution of salaries and household income provides an interesting insight: income inequality increases due to the sharp increase in high salaries and part-time positions. At the same time, however, the increasing number of women in the workplace reduces income inequality.

However, if one compares the salaries of the top 10% with the average salary, it can be seen that the differences became more marked between 1994 and 2012. Whilst low and average real earnings increased by 18% on average, real earnings among the top 10% of earners rose by 41%.

» U. Kuhn and Ch. Suter (2015)
L’évolution de l’inégalité des revenus en Suisse.
Die Entwicklung der Einkommenungleichheit in der Schweiz.
Social Change in Switzerland No 2.
Retrieved from


Prof. Christian Suter, University of Neuchâtel, 032 718 14 14 or 076 381 20 22,

"Healthy lives: technologies, policies and experiences": ESHMS 16th biennal congress in Geneva

"Healthy lives: technologies, policies and experiences": ESHMS 16th biennal congress in Geneva

The 16th congress of the European Society for Health and Medical Sociology (ESHMS) will take place on June 27-29, 2016 at the University of Geneva. It is co-organised by a local team including three members of the Swiss National Centre of Competence in Research LIVES. The call for pre-organised sessions ends on November 20, 2015, whereas the call for abstracts deadline is set on December 20, 2015.

Call for papers

In European societies, the imperative of good health keeps expanding. Health literacy, developments in personalized medicine, health and illness self-monitoring through mobile information and communication technologies, shared medical decision making, rising individualization of risks in health insurances, all support the normative importance of leading healthy lives.

In daily life and in encounters with healthcare institutions, individuals are expected to manage their own health through the adoption of healthy behaviours and/or endorsement of patient-centred and family focused care. Healthism, self-surveillance and individual regulation affect the experience of healthy and ill individuals, their relationships with healthcare professionals, but also public health policies and the monitoring of population health.

At the same time, different social trends challenge this dominant discourse. Unfavourable conditions in childhood, socioeconomic inequalities, instability of family ties, increasing requirements in job performance, inequalities in access to health care and growing difficulties associated with ageing limit the ability to lead healthy lives.

Furthermore, some individuals deliberately challenge the imperative for health and youth, by refusing medical treatments or disease screening, by adopting risky behaviours, or by criticizing health-sustaining technologies and strategies. The conference aims to address the dominant norm of leading healthy lives (technologies, policies and experiences) and to considerthe different resources used to reach ‘health’.

Papers addressing theoretical issues or presenting empirical research, both qualitative and quantitative, are welcomed. In addition to this central focus, abstracts in the main domains of health and medical sociology are welcomed. Propositions for sessions are also welcomed.  

Organisation of sessions

Sessions can take either the form of a pre-organised symposium or an open session. A typical session lasts 90 min and includes 3 to 4 papers, there can also be series of sessions on the same themes. Pre-organised sessions and papers can cover topics under any of the following issues:

  • Technologies and policies for healthy lives
  • Professional and lay experiences of the health imperative
  • Inequalities and social determinants of health
  • Risk behaviours
  • Gender and health
  • Vulnerabilities and health
  • Austerity and health
  • Health policy
  • Health services
  • Lifestyles
  • Subjective well-being and quality of life
  • Welfare states
  • Mental health
  • Health care and rehabilitation
  • Health promotion
  • Wellbeing at work
  • Life course perspective on health: trajectories and transitions

>> Deadline for pre-organized sessions: November 20, 2015
>> Deadline for abstracts: December 20, 2015
>> Contact:


HSHMS Executive committee
Local committee
International Conference on Sequence Analysis and Related Methods: call for contributions

International Conference on Sequence Analysis and Related Methods: call for contributions

The International Conference on Sequence Analysis and Related Methods (LaCOSA II) will be held at the University of Lausanne four years after the Lausanne Conference on Sequence Analysis (LaCOSA). The conference aims to bring together scholars using innovative methods for analyzing longitudinal data in social, managerial, political, health or environmental sciences with developers of methods for longitudinal analysis.

Sequence Analysis (SA) has become a popular exploratory tool in social sciences since the pioneering contributions of Andrew Abbott and the recent release of powerful pieces of software. Nevertheless, SA remains essentially exploratory and needs to be complemented with other modeling tools, especially when it comes to testing hypotheses or studying the dynamics that drives the trajectories. Therefore, this second conference intends to not limit itself to SA by also covering alternative longitudinal methods, such as survival and event history analysis, Markov-based and other longitudinal stochastic models. The aim is to debate how these different approaches can complement each other.

The conference will feature invited speakers and individual presentations. Confirmed keynote speakers are Francesco Billari, Anette Fasang, Jeroen Vermunt.

We welcome all submissions connected with SA or related methods in the social sciences, especially applications of innovative methodology, new methodological developments, method comparisons, or theoretical discussions linking substantive theory with methodological choices. Propositions across scientific domains are welcome.

  • Examples of application domains: Life course research, familial, residential, educational and health trajectories, life span, professional careers, career management, time use, geographical development paths...
  • Examples of methods: Sequence analysis, latent class, survival and event history analysis, multistate models, Markov-based transition models, structural-equation-model-based models such as latent growth curve models, multilevel longitudinal models...


Extended abstracts of at least two pages plus references should be submitted before the 20th of January 2015. Full papers can also be submitted as an extended abstract. Authors of accepted extended abstracts should then submit a full paper of their contribution for online proceedings before the 8th of May. At least one author for each accepted contribution will have to register to the conference for the paper to be included in the online proceedings. After the conference, authors of the best contributions will be invited to submit a possibly extended version of their papers for the post-conference volume to be published open-access in the Life Course Research and Social Policies Series by Springer-Verlag.

To submit a contribution, please follow the instructions on the conference website.

Data analysis contest

In addition to usual contributions, the conference will also promote a data analysis contest: Participants will be asked to run their own analysis of a provided longitudinal data set using methods of their choice and to submit results as a poster. For detailed instructions, please refer to the conference website.