Photo Hugues Siegenthaler

In Switzerland, inequalities in health trajectories do not increase

On December 12, 2013 in Geneva, Stéphane Cullati presented his doctoral thesis questioning the Cumulative Advantage/Disadvantage model, which he found to be less pertinent in Switzerland than in the United States. The theorist Dale Dannefer was present to discuss the issue.

Stéphane Cullati just gained his PhD in sociology for a dissertation in the article format addressing health trajectories of the adult population living in Switzerland. A systematic review was recently published in Advances in Life Course Research. The three other papers are empirical studies using the data of the Swiss Household Panel, with different samples and methods of analysis.

His doctoral thesis confirms the influence of socio-economic factors on health trajectories. However, "in the context of Switzerland, we also find limited support for the Cumulative Advantage and Disadvantage model, suggesting this model may not be applicable to the Swiss context", possibly because of "the Swiss labor market context and the Swiss health national policy".

During his public defense on December 12 at the Centre for Interfaculty Gerontology and Vulnerabilities Studies, Stéphane Cullati received warm congratulations from the five jury members, who nonetheless submitted several questions.

Prof. Dale Dannefer, from Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland (USA), said it was "an impressive dissertation and an excellent contribution to the litterature".

Within NCCR LIVES, Prof. Gilbert Ritschard described the work as "very clear", with  "advanced tools that are not easy to use". The thesis supervisor, Prof. Claudine Burton-Jeangros, also praised this contribution "at the intersection between epidemiology and social sciences", whose conclusions show that facing vulnerability, "compensation mechanisms exist".

Questions notably focused on the pertinence of self-reported health data in panel studies, and on the relatively short duration of the longitudinal follow-up (less than ten years for each of the empirical studies). So many topics to be further explored by Stéphane Cullati, who will join the International Centre for Lifecourse Studies in Society and Health in London as from next Summer.