From August 24 to August 28, the 2020 SLLS Summer School on Longitudinal and Life Course Research will be organized at the NCCR LIVES, University of Geneva. Registration is open until May 31 – the number of participants is limited!

Life course research is a burgeoning, interdisciplinary field of studies. It is characterized by theoretical approaches that reflect and inform diverse areas such as sociology, demography, epidemiology, economics, psychology, and social biology. It is also characterized by a set of commonly-used quantitative research methods, such as event-history analysis, multi-level modelling, structural equation modelling and sequence analysis that span disciplinary boundaries.

The Summer School is intended for post-doctoral fellows and postgraduate research students who are interested in exploring the potential of longitudinal and life course research or who want to further develop their existing skills.

The 2020 School is organized by Matthias Studer (NCCR LIVES and University of Geneva) and sponsored in part by the NCCR LIVES.


The program includes lectures and discussions led by expert researchers. Examples are drawn from a wide range of longitudinal data sets and illustrated with social and biological life course outcomes. Computer lab sessions develop practical and statistical skills for life course research.  

Themes Being Covered Include:

  • Sociology and Demography of the Life Course
  • Life Course Epidemiology
  • Life Course and Genetics
  • Event History Techniques
  • Multilevel Models for Life Course Processes
  • Structural Equation Models (SEM) for longitudinal data
  • Sequence Analysis Approaches

Provisional program available here. 

Experts participating: 

Stéphane Cullati (University of Fribourg), Paolo Ghisletta (NCCR LIVES and University of Geneva), Hill Kulu (University of St Andrews), Ross Macmillan (University of Limerick), Dimitri Mortelmans (University of Antwerp), Karel Neels (University of Antwerp), Michael Shanahan (University of Zurich), Matthias Studer (NCCR LIVES and University of Geneva), Eric Widmer (NCCR LIVES and University of Geneva) and Emilie Joly-Burra (NCCR LIVES and University of Geneva).

Keynote speaker:

Marlis Buchmann (University of Zurich)


To apply please fill in this form. 

With the registration, please send us (to upload on the form):

  • A motivation letter presenting your current research and its link with the life course perspective (No longer than 1 page)
  • A Curriculum Vitae including a list of publications

You will receive a notification from the Summer School staff that your application has been received and you will hear whether you have been admitted before June 12, 2020. In all cases, the fee is expected to be paid within 30 days after the notification of acceptance to finalize your registration.

For all practical information (Costs, where to sleep and contact info), please visit our SLLS Summer School page

>>>FAQ - 2020 SLLS Summer School practical 


Neuchâtel's single-parent homes on social assistance in the light of a study by the LIVES research cluster

According to a study by the NCCR LIVES "Overcoming Vulnerability: Life-Course Perspectives", single-parent homes in Neuchâtel on social assistance are generally run by women facing multiple problems. Indeed, interviews with single mothers indicate an accumulation of disadvantages over the life course linked to social origin, incomplete schooling, health problems, migratory experience or inequalities in the life of a couple.

The first part of the study, which is quantitative, provides an overview of the profile of the population concerned for the year 2016 based on the cantonal database of recipients of economic social assistance (ASE). According to this census, in more than 90% of cases, it consists of a single mother of around 40 years of age and her children. These families are more likely to live in the more urbanised areas of the canton. Cases of widowhood are very rare.

Most single parents are in an assistance unit with only one dependent child, and the youngest child is on average 9.5 years old. More than a fifth of the parents are employed and often work part-time. Slightly more than half of the single-parent households receiving ESA in the canton of Neuchâtel are of Swiss nationality, while a quarter are nationals of a European country.

Finally, only a small minority of beneficiaries manage to leave the ASE in less than twelve months, and almost all of the households remain in long-term support. In the beneficiary households headed by fathers, the same profile characteristics of the total population (mothers and fathers) are generally found.

Exit from social assistance impeded by work and health

The second and third parts of the study highlight the factors that may contribute to and exit from welfare. These components are based on interviews with welfare recipients and professionals working in social services. All respondents point to multiple difficulties that accumulate and interlock throughout the life course, until a trigger (job loss, end of unemployment insurance entitlements, separation/divorce, etc.) makes them difficult to manage and leads people to depend on economic social assistance. Thus, the importance of the payment and amounts of alimony and child support is emphasized by both recipients and social work professionals.

The lack of reliable childcare solutions is often mentioned, making it difficult for single parents to pursue a professional activity. Among the factors that can prevent people from leaving the assistance are working in sectors with few jobs, physical health problems or the relatively old age of the beneficiaries for the labour market. In addition, the prospect of becoming subject to seizure in the event of exit from the scheme, for beneficiaries with debts, may create an incentive to stay on welfare.

Prevent, support and educate to get by

The study reveals the importance of working upstream to prevent the accumulation of disadvantages. In this case, it is a question of taking action in multiple areas of life: schooling, mental health, social and professional integration, etc. Furthermore, it is important that the financial support of social assistance be taken into account by family/work reconciliation policies specific to the needs of single parents. From the point of view of the beneficiaries, support solutions better adapted to the different types of beneficiaries would be desirable, depending on the employment sector for example, and in particular in the form of additional training not currently covered by social assistance.

This research was carried out in partnership with the Office for Family Policy and Equality of the Canton of Neuchâtel and led by Dr. Ornella Larenza under the direction of Prof. Laura Bernardi (University of Lausanne, NCCR LIVES). She is studying the multiple facets of single-parent households in Neuchâtel on social assistance. After completing her doctorate at the NCCR LIVES, Dr. Ornella Larenza is now a researcher at the University of Applied Sciences of Ticino (SUPSI).

The complete study is available on our "Reports, partnerships, events" page. Any questions in this regard can be addressed to the author of the study.

Ornella Larenza, PhD


SUPSI - Scuola universitaria professionale della Svizzera italiana
DEASS - Dipartimento economia aziendale, sanità e sociale
Palazzo E, Via Cantonale 16e
CH-6928 Manno
Ufficio 206
+41 (0)58 666 6729


Public lecture by Prof. Marc Scott (NYU) - Sequence analysis and life course studies

Public lecture by Prof. Marc Scott (NYU) - Sequence analysis and life course studies

Prof. Marc Scott, from New York University, will give a public lecture during NCCR LIVES Doctoriales on 5 February 2020, "Both sides now: Methodological frameworks for objectives and challenges in sequence analysis".

Methods and models for life course studies are guided by the principle that progress through life is contextual and multi-dimensional. This poses the challenge of distilling large sequences of events into meaningful factors that can be related to other dimensions of the life course. Due to the categorical and temporal characteristics of these events, the field of sequence analysis developed to address fundamental social science questions emerging from rich longitudinal studies. These include questions that are relatively easy to state, but hard to specify and answer, such as to what extent does early life history matter in shaping events in later adulthood? More generally, how do we relate the full content of life experiences (literally the information contained within them) to subsequent outcomes, or across concurrent dimensions? We discuss current and developing frameworks that address these methodological challenges, comparing and contrasting them in the context of patterns in cohabitation and professional status (early home life, education, work and family) using the Swiss Household Panel.


5 February 2020
16.15 - 17.30
UNIL Géopolis, room 2137

NCCR LIVES Doctoriales 2020 - 9th edition

NCCR LIVES Doctoriales 2020 - 9th edition

Eighteen young researchers of the NCCR LIVES Doctoral Programme will present their thesis projects to internal and external experts on Tuesday 4 and Wednesday 5 February 2020 in Lausanne.

The 9th edition of the National Centre of Competence in Research Doctoral Programme LIVES "Overcoming Vulnerability, Life Course Perspective" will be held at the University of Lausanne, Géopolis, on 4 and 5 February 2020.

During these two days, doctoral students registered in the LIVES Doctoral Program will present the progress of their research. Experts internal and external to LIVES are mobilized to listen to them and comment on their project, bringing interdisciplinary expertise to young researchers.

The themes covered by the current theses cover many of the areas covered by the NCCR LIVES, such as health, ageing, migration, professional trajectories, family, interpersonal networks, social structures and methodology.

The event is closed with a public lecture by Marc Scott, Professor of Applied Statistics at New York University, "Both sides now: Methodological frameworks for objectives and challenges in sequence analysis".



The next Alp-Pop conference will take place on January 19-22, 2019 in La Thuile, Aosta Valley, Italy. It brings together scholars interested in population issues across several disciplines, including demography, economics, epidemiology, political science, sociology and psychology.

The conference emphasizes empirical rigor and innovation over a given topic or geographical area, and meets the challenges of interdisciplinary and international audiences. Inquiries can be addressed via email to: alp.pop@unibocconi.it.

The confirmed key-note speakers for the 2020 Conference are:

  • Hilary HOYNES (University of California Berkeley)
  • Jan VAN BAVEL (University of Leuven)

Alp-Pop scholars confer both formally and informally. A traditional conference program (paper and poster presentations) mixes with group activities in a world-class winter resort. The conference location, the Hotel Planibel in La Thuile (Aosta Valley), is next to the ski-slopes, and is in close proximity to the airports of Geneva and Torino/Milano.

Participants are expected to seek their own funding. Special-rate rooms have been reserved at the conference hotel with arrival on January 19 (conference starts in the afternoon) and departure on January 22 (the conference will end in the late morning). Participants will receive information on how to reach La Thuile and regular updates on the conference organization.

Organizing committee: 

  • Arnstein Aassve (Dondena Center for Research on Social Dynamics and Public Policy, Bocconi University)
  • Massimo Anelli (Dondena Center for Research on Social Dynamics and Public Policy, Bocconi University)
  • Nicoletta Balbo (Dondena Center for Research on Social Dynamics and Public Policy, Bocconi University)
  • Laura Bernardi (Swiss National Center for Competence in Research LIVES, University of Lausanne)
  • Francesco Billari (Dondena Center for Research on Social Dynamics and Public Policy, Bocconi University)