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Winner of LIVES award showed how institutional labelling fosters bullying of disabled pupils

Handicapped children and adolescents are more at risk of physical, verbal and mental violence from fellow pupils than young people with other disadvantages, especially when they are identified as having special educational needs. For the publication of this research in Sociology, Stella Chatzitheochari received a prize at the annual conference of the Society for Longitudinal and Life Course Studies. The NCCR LIVES selection committee praised the scientific relevance and the originality of her study.

Stella Chatzitheochari

The LIVES Best Paper Award for Young Scholars recompenses interdisciplinary works on vulnerability in the life course. Remitted for the first time this year during the annual conference of the Society for Longitudinal and Life Course Studies(SLLS) in Bamberg, Germany, on October 6, 2016, the prize of 2000 euros went to Dr. Stella Chatzitheochari, assistant professor at the University of Warwick (UK), for her article Doubly Disadvantaged? Bullying Experiences Among Disabled Children and Young People in England”, published online in 2015 and in print in 2016 in the journal Sociology with Samantha Parsons of the University College London and Lucinda Platt of the London School of Economics and Political Science as co-authors.

 Double penalty

Dr. Chatzitheochari’s paper addresses the cumulating disadvantages met by pupils with physical or mental impairment who are victims of bullying. Already vulnerable because of their health condition and greater socio-economic difficulties associated with the handicap, disabled children and young people suffer a double penalty by experiencing hardship in their relationships within school. Being a victim has been proven to have potential harmful consequences for later life achievements, including emotional balance and socio-economic attainment.

The originality of this research is to bring a sociological, quantitative and longitudinal perspective to a topic that has been until now examined more from a psychological, qualitative or cross-sectional point of view. Drawing on data from the Millenium Cohort Study and the Longitudinal Study on Young People in England, Dr. Chatzitheochari looked at the reported victimisation of disabled kids and teenagers at age 7 and 15, controlling for other possible explanatory variables such as socio-economic status, educational performance, size and weight, gender, ethnicity, family configuration, etc.

Reproducing social inequalities

Using three measures of disability, i.e. Long-standing limiting illness (LSLI), Special Educational Needs (SEN), and SEN with an official statement by the school system, Dr. Chatzitheochari builds on a social model of disability and observes that higher victimisation rates of disabled children are partly explained by the other vulnerability factors. However, she also demonstrates that all other things being equal, the institutional labelling – the so-called SEN (especially when reinforced by a statement) – significantly increases the risk of being bullied. These findings “draw attention to the school context as a potential site of reproduction of social inequalities,” the authors conclude.

Selection process

Stella Chatzitheochari, holder of a PhD in sociology received in 2012 from the University of Surrey, is the first winner ever of the LIVES Best Paper Award for Young Scholars, which is due to be issued once every coming years. The selection committee, composed of the LIVES Board of directors and four other LIVES research leaders, representing several disciplines like sociology, social psychology, demography, statistics, economics, and social policy, received 53 articles coming from 20 countries all over the five continents. Six papers were presented by young researchers working in Switzerland, some of them being involved in the Swiss National Centre of Competence in Research LIVES.

The selection committee members ranked the articles according the following criteria: centrality of vulnerability and life course in the research, originality, interdisciplinarity, scientific relevance, and suitability of methods. Dr. Chatzitheochari easily won the contest and in addition to receiving a gift of 2000 euros, she has been complimentarily invited to present her study during the SLLS conference. Congratulations!

>> Chatzitheochari, S., Parsons, S., and Platt, L. (2016) Doubly Disadvantaged? Bullying Experiences Among Disabled Children and Young People in England, Sociology, 50(4): 695-713.

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A PhD thesis on the plight of older job seekers is now being published in book form

Isabel Baumann’s dissertation has just been released as the 5th issue of the Springer series Life Course Research and Social Policies, which is edited by the Swiss National Centre of Competence in Research LIVES. Based on original Swiss data about dismissed workers’ trajectories after plant closure, this publication shows that individuals aged over 55 face strong hurdles in returning to employment. All chapters are available in open access.

For the first time since the launch of the Springer series on Life Course Research and Social Policies in 2013, a single-authored publication has been issued, and it comes from a young researcher! Isabel Baumann focused on the former employees of five companies that underwent plant closure in Switzerland over the recent years. Within the framework of the NCCR LIVES’ IP204 and under the supervision of Prof. Daniel Oesch at the University of Lausanne, her research notably addressed the capacity of these workers to find a new job after layoff. Her results were presented in 2015, when she defended her manuscript and received her PhD. The main finding is that senior job seekers have much more difficulty overcoming unemployment than young and low-skilled people.

Since Switzerland’s low unemployment rate is exceptional compared to other countries, what can this publication bring to the international debate on occupational integration? “It shows that even in a country with low average unemployment, there are substantial differences between different types of workers. Accordingly, it is import to know who suffers most, before designing and implementing measures. In Switzerland, these policies should target mainly older workers, but elsewhere it could be other groups,” Isabel Baumann says.

Nowadays in Switzerland, there is a lot of discussion going on about hiring more senior workers to compensate the expected reduction of immigrants following the vote of February 2014. However, Isabel Baumann points to the lack of knowledge about the reason for older workers’ difficulties to find employment after job loss. She maintains that as long as we do not fully understand this phenomenon it is difficult to predict whether this development will improve older job seekers’ prospects. In addition, she is concerned with the demographic trend of a growing number of baby boomers, being now in their fifties, possibly threatened by exclusion: “The employment rate of this population is comparably high, but the worry is what happens when they lose their job.”

The Springer book follows the same structure as her doctoral thesis, with a slightly punchier introduction. Thanks to the support of the NCCR LIVES, the electronic version may be entirely downloaded for free, but hard copies may also be ordered at a very reasonable price. The NCCR LIVES hopes that this publication will encourage other junior researchers to apply to get their PhD dissertation published in the Springer series.

>> Baumann, I. (2016). The plight of older workers. Labor market experience after plant closure in the Swiss manufacturing sector. New York, USA: Springer, Life Course Research and Social Policies. Vol. 5.

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The centenarian boom: a challenge for society – and for their senior citizen children

People aged over 90 constitute the age group with the fastest growth rate. Prof. Daniela Jopp has been conducting studies on this population for several years and in various countries. She has started a new project in Switzerland which focuses on the relationship between these very old people and their children, who are themselves elderly. On 22 September 2016 she will give a public lecture to mark the opening of courses in the Faculty of Social and Political Sciences at the University of Lausanne.

“All centenarians soon?”, is the question posed by the title of the next public lecture by Daniela Jopp, Associate Professor at the University of Lausanne and at the National Centre of Competence in Research LIVES. During another speech, in the context of the REIACTIS conference in February, she had previously stated that one child in every two born in the 2000s could well live to be one hundred. The 4th age affects us not only because we may well reach it, but also because it is possible that our parents will live well beyond what they had imagined.

Advances in medicine are not the only reasons. A better standard of living and more health-conscious attitudes are enabling an increasing number of individuals to prolong their life expectancy. In ten years, the number of centenarians in the United States has increased by 30%. And the probability that the very elderly will be able to keep their cognitive capacities intact is also increasing. In a study carried out on a German sample by Daniela Jopp and other colleagues, more than half of centenarians were recently in this favourable position, compared to 41% a decade earlier.

The benefits of an active life

"We found that people born around 1912 who have the highest cognitive capacities are those who have been most active in their lives," the researcher explains. "For example, women in this cohort of centenarians who had access to a personal bank account have better cognitive function. For the people in the preceding cohort, who were born at the very beginning of the century, the predictor of better mental health was a higher level of education and good health. Apparently, for the more recent centenarian cohorts, keeping active during life has had a greater protective effect."

Speaking of mental health, another fact is also surprising: the vast majority of centenarians show no signs of depression, and only 10% say they want to die. Somewhat less surprisingly, those living in institutions show less satisfaction with life than those who have kept a private dwelling. Having plans and being involved with other people also helps the very old to retain this will to go on living: "A lady in New York told us that she wanted to know the result of next season’s Super Bowl. Two other people were holding on out of concern for their sick sons,” relates Daniela Jopp.

Social and emotional relationships

The findings of the international research network set up by Prof. Jopp appeared this summer in a special issue of the Journal of Aging & Social Policy. Based on three surveys carried out in Portugal, Germany and the United States, these papers are particularly concerned with the social and emotional relationships of these very old individuals, a line of research which Daniela Jopp is now continuing to pursue in Switzerland thanks to the support of the Leenaards Foundation and the National Centre of Competence in Research LIVES.

Given the acknowledged importance of emotional ties for well-being, and the fact that very old people have often seen most of their contemporaries disappear, Daniela Jopp’s research intends to explore the aspect of relationships between these individuals and their offspring, in or almost in the 3rd age. Her team has begun to hold interviews and is looking for still more contacts with elderly parent-children dyads in order to compare two groups: a first group composed of parents aged over 95 and their children aged over 65, and a second group consisting of parents aged from 70 to 85 and their children aged from 40 to 60.

The researcher expects to see an element of ambivalence in the relationships, particularly among the oldest dyads: "Children generally describe having a very elderly parent who is still alive as a positive thing, but they complain of no longer having enough time for themselves. Over time, old psychological wounds can eventually resurface and burden the relationship."

New needs

The aim, through better identification of the needs of the elderly and their senior citizen children, is to provide input about support not only for (almost) centenarians, but also for "young" retirees who care for their parents, because often their own health eventually suffers under this burden: "Governments should have carers on their radar," insists Daniela Jopp.

And since a significant part of the population is destined for the same fate, she is surprised that more attention is not given to the problems of the elderly and the very elderly. In her view measures should be implemented which provide a real role for the elderly in society, offering them measures for physical rehabilitation where necessary, paying attention to their mobility, ensuring that their glasses and hearing devices are adjusted regularly as required, and taking seriously and easing their sufferings. These are all signs of consideration of a better quality of life that are not yet part of the established patterns, as if this growing proportion of humanity were only a negligible number.

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Research on ageing reveals current and future ills of society

Gerontology is much more than just the science of those interested in the elderly. By combining the perspectives of the various disciplines involved, it can provide an overview of the contemporary world and an outline of the challenges that affect the young people of today and the not-so-young of tomorrow. The National Centre of Competence in Research LIVES is taking part in this process. The work of its researchers has produced several excellent doctoral theses, as well as a recent contribution to a major publication.

Recognition for the National Centre of Competence in Research LIVES: its director, Dario Spini, and three colleagues – Daniela Jopp, Stéphanie Pin, Silvia Stringhini – put their names to a chapter in the 4th edition of the Handbook of Theories of Aging, which includes more than 700 pages, published in the United States by Vern L. Bengtson and Richard A. Settersten, Jr., bringing together "the most highly respected luminaries in the field.”

Biologists, psychologists, sociologists and experts in social policy and practice are all called upon to set out the current state of knowledge about ageing, identify the theories that are no longer relevant and determine which theories should now replace them in the light of the latest findings. According to the editors, describing new models must serve to predict the challenges that lie ahead and guide future actions intended to improve the human condition.

Processes and dynamics

This 4th edition - some 30 years after the first in 1988 and less than 10 years since the previous edition in 2009 - takes a particular interest in the processes that are at work in ageing. It reflects the evolution of sociology and psychology, which are paying more and more attention to the dynamics studied from the life course perspectives, such as well-being or emotional relationships and the social network. The editors note that the underlying idea is to focus on the quality of life, on “aging well, not just aging long".

The chapter commissioned for the NCCR LIVES team therefore builds upon the rise of longitudinal studies, which are continuing to develop in Switzerland and in several other countries. The authors present four major lessons learned from recent and ongoing surveys in relation to older people. Firstly, the difficulty of placing such research within a single, fixed timeframe: which life phases to include for an overall understanding of the effects of age, how far back to go in the past, then how often to repeat the measures and how to delineate the different time periods in the pathways in an empirical sense?

Heterogeneity of life courses

Another problem: taking into account the heterogeneity of life courses and the multidirectional aspect of certain variables. For example, the well-known "paradox of well-being" - a theory considered as very robust up until recently, indicating that life satisfaction tends to increase with age - is only really true in rich countries and for people in good health. Models of ageing cannot therefore overlook differences in cohort, gender, and social and economic status.

One must also consider the multidimensional aspect of life courses, the fact that each existence is lived out in several domains, and is subject to factors which are both objective and subjective. Faced with difficulties, individuals may implement "selection, optimisation and compensation" mechanisms in the arrangement of their various types of resources (economic, social, physical, etc.) which make the identification of vulnerabilities and the understanding of resilience more complex for researchers.

Biological age and social age

Ultimately the ageing process occurs at several different levels. Biological age and social age do not always coincide; environmental, institutional and normative contexts also evolve and must be taken into account in the different generations studied.

It is difficult, therefore, to combine all of the many dynamics related to ageing in one definitive theory, Dario Spini and his colleagues conclude. Addressing both the welcome increase in longitudinal surveys and the difficulties for scholars in achieving interdisciplinary careers, they welcome the increased funding for life course studies, but remain cautious about the final contribution of these research activities to a comprehensive and universal understanding of the mechanisms of ageing.

A burst of doctoral theses

Cautious, or too modest? The doctoral theses completed in the framework of the National Centre of Competence in Research LIVES, some of which were presented very recently, certainly show definite progress in the analysis of certain aspects concerning the advance of old age. Laure Kaeser, Rainer Gabriel, Marie Baeriswyl, Julia Henke, and Barbara Masotti, who were awarded doctorates in 2015 and 2016 by the University of Geneva, all carried out their research at the Interfaculty Centre of Gerontology and Vulnerability Studies (CIGEV) under the (joint) leadership of Prof. Michel Oris and based on data collected by the Vivre-Leben-Vivere (VLV) survey, funded by LIVES. Other work is continuing and in the months and years ahead will provide new results.

These young researchers demonstrate that the change in the perception of older people, from supported elderly to active seniors, does not take into account the reality of the most vulnerable, those who have not really benefited from the democratisation of education, institutional and health progress, and the general rise in living standards. Their detailed analyses of the VLV sample, consisting of 3,600 people over the age of 65, and following two other major surveys carried out in 1979 and 1994, provide a very nuanced picture of ageing in Switzerland.

Perception of economic difficulties

Julia Henke, for example, who presented her thesis on 17 June, compares subjective and objective indicators of precariousness to show the limitations of using the sole criterion of the poverty line when assessing economic vulnerability. Income from the Old-Age and Survivor's Insurance (OASI) does not guarantee that those who have no savings, are isolated or are in poor health will be free of financial difficulties. According to the researcher, “it takes both, economic and psychological paradigms to understand quality of life”. She emphasises that “the creation of social indicators requires a number of normative decisions”, which contribute to shaping our vision of the world, especially in a data-driven society.

Social participation and well-being

The thesis of Marie Baeriswyl, presented on 16 June, also offers reflections along these lines. In her observation of the evolution of social participation in retirement, she notes that "the emergence of retirees who are multi-participatory, involved, consumers, and also integrated into different communities, whether private or public, is not happening without an increasingly large gap between these retirees and those who do not have the same opportunities and resources." Interestingly, a comparison with the surveys from 1979 and 1994 shows that before 2011, the question of life satisfaction was not addressed to the elderly, which again raises the question of what is being measured and what it reveals about current paradigms.

Marie Baeriswyl’s research confirms the link between social participation and well-being in retirement. It undermines certain theories such as the disintegration of social capital in contemporary societies and the loss of family solidarity, "fears that have long marked the consideration of issues affecting old age," notes the researcher. Conversely, she notes a polarisation between those well endowed with social, economic and cultural capital, who retain good emotional ties and have lives rich in activities, and those who are left behind, whose level of education is often low and who experience deteriorating health.

Gender inequalities also persist after retirement age, with men generally more involved in the public domain and women more focussed on the private sphere. An imbalance that will be interesting to revisit in a few years' time, to see if the growing participation of women in the labour market will change behaviours at the point of retirement.

Structures versus individuals

This exciting thesis concludes with a call not to forget the importance of providing institutionalised structures for social participation and not to give in to the "ideology of de-institutionalisation", which would leave older people solely responsible for their own active involvement and which would disavow the injustices that are at the root of the differences in social participation between more fortunate and less fortunate older people.

It is therefore in agreement with the conclusions of the chapter by Spini et al. in the Handbook of Theories of Aging, which states that “it is well established that life expectancy and well-being are related to socioeconomic environments, yet many theories of aging focus on personal characteristics and individually based explanations rather than considering them in the context of or in relation to environmental factors.” At a time when the demographic weight of older people is posing a challenge not only to the welfare state but also to the equilibrium between the generations in democratic debates, addressing current and future conditions of ageing is a topic of paramount importance that will continue to grow in relevance.

>> Vern L. Bengtson & Richard A. Settersten, Jr. (2016). Handbook of Theories of Aging. New York: Springer, 752 p.

>> Dario Spini, Daniela S. Jopp, Stéphanie Pin, and Silvia Stringhini (2016). The Multiplicity of Aging: Lessons for Theory and Conceptual Development From Longitudinal Studies. In Vern L. Bengtson & Richard A. Settersten, Jr. (2016). Handbook of Theories of Aging (p. 669-690). New York: Springer.

>> Julia Henke (2016). Revisiting Economic Vulnerability among Swiss Pensioners: Low Income, Difficulty in Making Ends Meet and Financial Worry. Under the supervision of Michel Oris. University of Geneva.

>> Marie Baeriswyl (2016). Participations et rôles sociaux à l’âge de la retraite. Une analyse des évolutions et enjeux autour de la participation sociale et des rapports sociaux de sexe. Under the supervision of Jean-François Bickel and Michel Oris. University of Geneva.

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The NCCR LIVES commits 700,000 CHF in three new projects on health and ageing

The call for project proposals on life course and vulnerability launched last January generated 42 applications and resulted in the selection of three innovative and promising research designs. The issues of health and ageing are at the core of these projects. Swiss Household Panel data will be used in two of them. One team from the German part of Switzerland is new to LIVES, while familiar LIVES members lead the other two projects.

This year the Swiss National Centre of Competence in Research LIVES invited researchers working in Swiss Universities or research institutes to apply for funding 3-year projects ranging from 200,000 to 300,000 Swiss francs. Interdisciplinary projects, as well as those using longitudinal data, were especially welcome.

Forty-two projects were proposed and three received approval. The selection process was led by the Advisory Board of LIVES, an independent group of international researchers who ranked the project proposals on criteria of quality, innovation and feasibility.

The three selected projects will start next September and represent a total of 700,000 CHF. They will focus on promising research questions on the issues of ageing and health in a longitudinal perspective, and hire junior researchers to assist the project leaders. Each project is related to one of the LIVES cross-cutting issues, examining dynamics of stress and resources across life domains, over time and across analysis levels (social interactions and normative climate).

Resilience after the onset of a chronic health condition

Dr. Claudio Peter, a senior scientist at the Swiss Paraplegic Research (SPF) in Nottwil and the Department of Health Sciences and Health Policy of the University of Lucerne, will lead a project on resilience and vulnerability after the onset of a chronic health condition. Together with Dr. Gisela Michel, associate professor in the same department and deputy director of the Swiss Childhood Cancer Registry, and Dr. Nicole Bachmann, a scientific collaborator at the University of Applied Sciences and Arts - North-Western Switzerland, they will hire a PhD student and a part-time post-doc researcher.

Using Swiss Household Panel (SHP) data, they plan to observe well-being and mental health over five years after the onset of a chronic disease (stroke, multiple sclerosis, spinal cord injury, rheumatoid arthritis, etc.) and compare these measures with pre-event levels. The aim is to determine what factors, such as physical, social and psychological resources, influence these processes. “Understanding the adjustment process to a physical chronic health condition is a key requirement for the development of purposeful interventions aiming to foster the person’s resilience,” the team posits.

Impact of life course events on health at older age

Also on the basis of SHP data and including SHARE (Survey of Health, Ageing and Retirement in Europe) data, a second project aims at investigating the influence of life course events on health trajectories at older age. The team is composed of Dr. Stéphane Cullati, Prof. Claudine Burton-Jeangros, Dr. Delphine Courvoisier, Prof. Matthias Kliegel, Dr. Rainer Gabriel, from the University of Geneva and NCCR LIVES IP208 and IP213, as well as Prof. David Blane, from the International Centre for Life Course Studies in Society and Health at the University College London, and Dr. Idris Guessous, from the Unit of Population Epidemiology of the Geneva University Hospitals. A post-doctoral researcher will complete this interdisciplinary team of epidemiologists and gerontologists, including a medical researcher and a statistician.

Their research questions examine how childhood socioeconomic conditions and non-normative events like parental separation and job loss are associated with downward health trajectories at older age. They also want to focus on the long-term impact of family and occupational trajectories during active life on health trajectory after retirement. The hypothesis of cumulative advantages and disadvantages and the protecting effect of social mobility will be tested.

Very old persons and their old children

The third project addresses the relationships between very old persons and their aging children. Comparing two groups of parent-child dyads - one composed of parents aged over 95 and children aged over 65, the other one with parents aged 70-85 and children aged 40-60 -, the researchers posit that “older dyads face unique challenges due to the prolonged relationship and caregiving demands, and the elevated vulnerability related to both dyad members’ age and reduced resources, which place them at greater risk for poor outcomes”. Quantitative and qualitative data will be collected. The Leenaards Foundation has already funded the pilot study.

Prof. Daniela Jopp, a psychologist and member of NCCR LIVES IP212 at the University of Lausanne, leads this project in collaboration with Prof. Kathrin Boerner from the University of Massachusetts Boston and Prof. Heining Cham from Fordham University. Dr. Claudia Meystre, a post-doctoral researcher at the University of Lausanne, will assist them, and three students will conduct the interviews. This mixed-methods survey will notably explore contextual factors and cultural values like “familism”, i.e. strong normative feelings of allegiance with family. The expected outcome is to identify needs of new health care policies for a fast growing population.

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“Understanding key challenges for European societies in the 21st century”: The health issue

The 3rd International Conference of the European Social Survey (ESS), on 13-15th July 2016 at the University of Lausanne, is locally co-organised by FORS Swiss Centre of Expertise in the Social Sciences and sponsored by the NCCR LIVES. It notably features a presentation by Claudine Burton-Jeangros, Adrien Remund and Stéphane Cullati from the University of Geneva about health inequalities in Switzerland.

The 3rd International ESS Conference showcases research that uses data from the European Social Survey (ESS) to address issues such as migration, work and family life, wellbeing, health, welfare, political engagement and social norms and values. Practical and policy implications of the research will be drawn out wherever possible. The conference is being organised by the European Social Survey European Research Infrastructure Consortium (ESS ERIC) and the Swiss Centre of Expertise in the Social Sciences (FORS), with the support of the Swiss National Centre of Competence in Research LIVES – Overcoming Vulnerability: Life Course Perspectives.

The European Social Survey (ESS) is an academically driven cross-national survey that has been conducted across Europe since 2001. Every two years, face-to-face interviews are conducted with newly selected, cross-sectional samples. The survey measures the attitudes, beliefs and behaviour patterns of diverse populations in more than thirty nations.

During the 3rd International ESS Conference, Prof. Claudine Burton-Jeangros, Dr. Adrien Remund, and Dr. Stéphane Cullati, researchers at the University of Geneva and NCCR LIVES, presented “Do social inequalities in health and wellbeing decrease, increase or remain stable in Switzerland? A cross-sectional trend analysis (2002-2014)”

Increase of health inequalities

In a context of difficult socioeconomic conditions over the last years in Europe, social inequalities in health and wellbeing have increased in many high-income countries. The three researchers ask whether in Switzerland, where health inequalities tend to remain limited, health and wellbeing inequalities are changing or not. Their objective was to examine change in social inequalities in health and well-being between the years 2002 and 2014, using waves 1 (2002) to 7 (2014) of the Swiss sample of the European Social Survey.

They observed that over the 2002-2014 period, educational inequalities on self-reported health and being hampered in daily activities slightly increased: respondents with high educational levels tended to report better health status over time compared to respondents with low educational levels, and the former tended to report being hampered less frequently over time. Moreover, the association between household income and happiness (higher income, higher happiness) slightly increased over time.

Some correlations between health and wellbeing with a range of social factors remained stable over time: perception of neighbourhood insecurity (feeling unsafe when walking alone after dark) was lastingly and strongly associated with low self-rated health and with being hampered in daily activities; poor satisfaction with household income was associated with poor satisfaction with life, poor happiness, and (to the exception of wave 2006) with poor self-rated health; household income was associated with being hampered in daily activities (to the exception of wave 2008).

Other inequalities declined during the 2002-2014 period: women tended to report higher self-rated health compared to men until 2006, then the difference between them slightly diminished wave by wave until 2014.

They conclude that in Switzerland, health and well-being inequalities changed during the 2002-2014 period. Figures of temporal change included both increasing and decreasing social inequalities, with the first pattern (increasing inequalities) being more frequent. Long-standing, stable, social inequalities were also observed.

>> Sources: http://www.europeansocialsurvey.org/about/conference/ and
http://www.europeansocialsurvey.org/docs/about/conference/abstract-book.pdf (p.51)

7th Alpine Population Conference (Alp-Pop 2017) in La Thuile, Aosta Valley, Italy

7th Alpine Population Conference (Alp-Pop 2017) in La Thuile, Aosta Valley, Italy

Alp-Pop brings together scholars interested in population issues across several disciplines. For its 7th edition, which will take place from January 15 to 18, 2017, the organisers from the Dondena Centre for Research on Social Dynamics of University Bocconi (I) and the NCCR LIVES are launching a call for papers on issues like health, migration, families, the welfare state, economic development, institutions, well-being.

The confirmed Ski-note speakers for the 2017 Alp-Pop Conference are Prof. Hans-Peter Kohler (University of Pennsylvania) and Prof. Alberto Palloni (University of Wisconsin).

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.

Scope

The organisers -  the Dondena Centre for Research on Social Dynamics of University Bocconi (Italy) and the NCCR LIVES - welcome submissions on all population issues (e.g. health, migration, families, the welfare state, economic development, institutions, well-being, etc.). They particularly encourage submissions that take a life course perspective and/or address social inequalities.

Deadline

Submissions of original papers or extended abstracts are invited by September 10, 2016, and submitters will be notified of acceptance within a couple of weeks.

Submissions and inquiries should be addressed via email to: alp.pop@unibocconi.it

Organising committee

  • Prof. Arnstein Aassve, Bocconi University
  • Dr. Massimo Anelli, Bocconi University
  • Prof. Laura Bernardi, University of Lausanne
  • Dr. Gina Potarca, University of Lausanne
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Apprenticeships vs. high school: both lead to employment, but salaries are higher with the matura

Does Switzerland allow too many young people to take a high school diploma, at the risk of confronting them with skill mismatches on the job market? Or, on the contrary, are they encouraged to focus too much on vocational training, which limits young adults to specific occupations, making them vulnerable to technological progress? The new issue of the series Social Change in Switzerland answers these two questions by analysing the perspectives for employment and salary that each type of education provide along the career path.

Based on data of the Swiss Labour Force Survey and the Swiss Household Panel, Maïlys Korber and Daniel Oesch, researchers at the University of Lausanne, show that having a Matura with no further university studies does not condemn people to live on the fringes of the job market. The rate of employment for secondary school graduates is very high in Switzerland, and their rate of unemployment is modest. Likewise, contrary to a preconceived idea, workers with vocational training are not at a loss when faced with the structural changes caused by the evolution of professions. Their employment rate remains high even after the age of 50.

Following an apprenticeship is, however, less advantageous with regard to salary evolution. From 30 years of age, workers who have got a high school diploma without higher education receive higher annual salaries than those who have got a certificate of vocational education. A Matura is also a contributing factor to better salary progression throughout the life course. This advantage for those with the Matura is particularly pronounced amongst women.

Results regarding employment for vocational training are thus excellent, but they are therefore less positive when it comes to salary evolution. Employees who only have a Matura are better paid in Switzerland, once they have gained some years of working experience. Consequently, in the Swiss job market there is no indication that there are too many high school graduates. If the aim is to make apprenticeships more attractive, it is necessary to increase salaries, rather than increasingly limit access to the Matura.

>> Korber, Maïlys & Oesch, Daniel (2016). Quelle perspectives d’emploi et de salaires après un apprentissage ? / Beschäftigungs- und Lohnperspektiven nach einer Matura. [What are the perspectives for employment and salary after an apprenticeship?] Social Change in Switzerland No 6, retrieved from www.socialchangeswitzerland.ch

Contact: Daniel Oesch +41 (0)78 641 50 56 / daniel.oesch@unil.ch

The series Social Change in Switzerland documents the evolution of Switzerland’s social structure. It is edited by the Swiss Centre of Expertise in the Social Sciences FORS, the Life Course and Inequalities Research Centre of the University of Lausanne LINES , and the Swiss National Centre of Competence in Research LIVES – Overcoming Vulnerability: Life Course Perspectives (NCCR LIVES). The aim is to monitor change in employment, family, income, mobility, voting, or gender in Switzerland. Based on cutting edge empirical research, the series targets a wider audience than just academic experts.

 

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Vulnerability in Health Trajectories: Call for papers for the Swiss Journal of Sociology

Call for papers for the Special issue 2018, vol. 44(2) of the Swiss Journal of Sociology: "Vulnerability in Health Trajectories: Life Course Perspectives". Submission deadline: September 20, 2016. Gest editors: Stéphane Cullati (University of Geneva), Claudine Burton-Jeangros (University of Geneva), Thomas Abel (University of Bern).

In contemporary societies, the unequal distribution of health results from the influence of a range of social factors. The research on health inequalities has been recently re-visited and partly renewed by life course perspectives on health. Over the life course, social determinants affect individual health trajectories and shape the often sharply distinct health patterns among socially disadvantaged and advantaged groups. Both macro contexts (historical period, economic recessions) and micro contexts (family and working spheres, social networks) define how health trajectories unfold over the life course and how health inequalities develop among and across sub-populations. Such health inequalities continue to grow in many affluent countries, calling for more research at the crossroad of sociology of health and life course epidemiology.

Life course perspectives aim at a comprehensive understanding of the development of inequalities in health trajectories. Health is dynamic and changing over the life course, following different patterns (stability in good or poor conditions, decline, improvement, or recurrent fluctuations). As individuals age, general health slowly declines and is progressively impaired with increasing loss of functional and cognition abilities. In societies characterized by individualization and diversity of lifestyles, the development of trajectories unfolds at the interplay of agency and structure. Sociological conceptualizations of agency and structure contribute to our understanding of the processes by which inequalities in health trajectories occur over time and how social factors (i.e., socioeconomic position, working conditions, marital and family lives, lifestyles, gender, migration, discrimination) impact on health trajectories.

Educational, social security and health care systems influence life course trajectories, the resources individuals use at different stages of their life and their chances of staying in good health as long as possible. Socially disadvantaged groups are structurally positioned in unfavourable conditions in society. Therefore, they are likely to accumulate health risks (e.g. poor working and housing conditions, family circumstances) and to lack the material and
non-material resources needed to cope with the adversities of life and to develop healthy lifestyle habits. Such structural disadvantaged positions put them at higher risk of experiencing health decline earlier in their life course or at a faster rate of decline compared to the wealthier. They are also at higher risk of experiencing non-normative transitions for health reasons (job loss, divorce).

This special issue collects papers examining the processes by which social advantages and disadvantages affect the health of individuals over their life course. Which factors lead to health vulnerability and to chronic illness, handicap and disability, which contribute to an accelerated health decline (either mental, physical or social health)? Alternatively, which determinants have a favourable impact on health and allow individuals to remain in good health as they age? How are these processes influenced by embeddedness of people in the social structure? What are the social determinants (social system, socioeconomic position, family and working lives) and the individual determinants (biological inheritance, emotion, cognition, health behaviours) that moderate these processes? How can family and working spheres either support or impede health trajectories?

This special issue invites empirical papers based on either quantitative or qualitative data, or both. Theoretical papers and systematic reviews are also very welcomed. Papers should address health trajectories with a life course perspective. Analyses pertaining to different stages of the life course (foetal life, children, adolescents, adults, elderly) are welcome.

Guest editors:

Please submit your proposal for a contribution to Stéphane Cullati (stephane.cullati@unige.ch) by 20 September 2016.
Your submission for the special issue should include the following:

  • name, email address, and affiliations of all the authors
  • title of the paper,
  • abstract of around 500 words, structured (topic, aim, methods, results, discussion, conclusion).

The guest editors will decide on the acceptance or rejection of the abstract until 20 October 2016.
Selected authors will be invited to submit their manuscript (max. 8,000 words, 50,000 characters including tables, figures and references) by 15 March 2017. The manuscripts will go through the usual peer-review process of the Swiss Journal of Sociology. Accepted languages are English, German or French. More information about the Swiss Journal of Sociology and the submission process are available in www.sgs-sss.ch/sociojournal.
Publication is planned for July 2018.
For any queries, please contact Stéphane Cullati at stephane.cullati@unige.ch

How families evolve in Switzerland: the NCCR LIVES’ analysis for Swiss Statistics

How families evolve in Switzerland: the NCCR LIVES’ analysis for Swiss Statistics

Prof. Laura Bernardi and members of her team (Emanuela Struffolino, Andrés Guarin, Gina Potârca) as well as Marion Burkimsher are the authors of the three articles that compose the 1st issue of Demos, a new newsletter of demographic information from the Swiss Statistical Office. Single parenthood, fertility patterns and mixed marriages are the topics.

Lone mothers with children: continuity and change over time

One-parent households represent a growing phenomenon in many European countries. More importantly, the spread of separation and divorce rates across different social groups is fostering greater heterogeneity in the population of lone parents. While census data show that between 1970 and 2010 the share of lone parent households in Switzerland, i.e. indi­viduals living alone with one or more children below age 25, was stable at around 4%, the experience of lone parenthood has substantially changed. Before the 1980s in Switzerland, as in other European countries, one parent households were rela­tively stable living arrangements: once begun, lone parenthood was there to stay. In contrast, since the 1990s, we observe more frequent and faster transitions out of lone parenthood, especially because of the higher rates of secondunion forma­tion and family recomposition. This de­velopment is partially related to the changes in the population composition of lone parents as well as in the normative frame regulating union formation and dissolution. Such dynam­ics pose new challenges for defining, measuring, and imagin­ing efficient policies that support individuals through the tran­sitions in and out of lone parenthood.

Comparing fertility patterns of migrants and Swiss natives

The fertility behaviour of first and second generation migrants is a crucial determinant of population dynamics, particularly so in Switzerland, a country with a high proportion of migrants and a very diverse composition by ethnic group. We describe the differentials in the number of children and the timing of births between Swiss natives and different migrant groups and we interpret them as indicators of integration. We use informa­tion gathered in the Families and Generations Survey of 2013 complemented with data from the Swiss census of 2000.

Mixed marriages and their dissolution

Mixed marriages are defined as marriages between two indi­viduals of different origins. The predominance of such mar­riages indicates the social and cultural distance between the native population, on the one hand, and different immigrant groups, on the other. In this report, we examine how common and how stable mixed marriages are in Switzerland by asking the following questions: Which immigrant groups have more chances of marrying Swiss natives ? And which ones are more likely to divorce their Swiss spouse ? Have younger generations better or worse chances of forming and ending a marriage with a native ?

>> See the full newsletter

Photo iStock © vadimguzhva

Children have a life outside of school and family time. How should it be organised?

The very first Symposium on the Family took place in Geneva on 31 May 2016, at the request of the new association, Avenir Familles (Family Futures) and its Observatoire des familles (Observatory on the Family) based at the University of Geneva with the support of the National Centre of Competence in Research LIVES. This day of conferences, workshops and debates brought to light the growing and sometimes contradictory requirements for flexibilisation on the one hand and securement on the other in matters relating to childcare outside of school and family settings.

The first Geneva Symposium on the Family on 31 May at Uni Mail brought together some 90 participants from associations and from state-run, economic and academic bodies in order to consider the topic of arranging and taking responsibility for care outside school and outside the family for children from 4 to 18 years of age. The event, which is intended to be held again on a regular basis, was initiated and organised by Avenir Famille, an association created less than a year ago, which already has around forty partners. It includes a research element located in the Department of Sociology at the University of Geneva under the direction of Professor Eric Widmer, co-director of the National Centre of Competence in Research LIVES.

The morning was devoted to three plenary conference sessions featuring six speakers. Gianluigi Giacomel and Antonio Martin Diaz, currently researchers at the University of Lausanne, presented the results of the study Prise en charge extrascolaire et extrafamiliale des enfants genevois (Arranging and taking responsibility for care outside school and outside the family for children from Geneva), carried out in 2013-2014 on behalf of the City of Geneva and drawn from 1,700 households. We learn, for example, that 60% of pupils in Geneva use school canteens and 40% take part in after-school activities in the late afternoon. Almost one in every two children is regularly looked after by a member of the extended family, particularly on Wednesday afternoons. During the holidays, 7% of children do not go away at all, and we can see that organised daily activities have largely superseded holiday camps.

Prof. Widmer then produced an analysis of these results taking into account the socio-demographic profile of the parents. He found that low income is associated with a lower participation in extracurricular or after-school activities and use of the extended family, which raises the question of the supervision of these children, who are "increasingly left to themselves in places where the economic, cultural and social resources are weakest (...) when in fact they should be supported more in order to compensate for the social disadvantages". According to the researcher, migrant families in particular suffer from this "accumulation of deficiencies", resulting in a certain "social diffidence". He concluded by saying that we should not necessarily increase provisioning, but perhaps think about presenting or structuring it differently, appealing to the "collective intelligence" of the participants at the Symposium.

Flexibility versus security

On more than one occasion the two conferences which followed, as well as the workshops in the afternoon, gave food for thought about two current trends in society, flexibility and security, the requirements of which can sometimes be difficult to reconcile.

The sociologist Marie-Agnès Barrère-Maurisson, a researcher at CNRS and a specialist in the relationship between family and work, has identified three stages during the past fifty years in France: the familialism of the 60s and 70s, with a very gender-based division of the paternal and maternal roles, followed in the 80s by a feminist phase, where mothers found a place in the world of work, and finally, starting during the 1990s-2000s, an era of "parentalism" where the child is at the centre, regardless of the nature of the marital relationship between the parents. "What constitutes family today is the child and no longer the couple; it is the only constant in a wide range of parental relationships" the researcher has noted, calling for "a rethink of the way work is organised in order to move from a culture of presence to a culture of performance, that is, make working time as flexible as possible, including for men", whose growing involvement with children has been recognised.

This promotion of flexibility has certainly got a reaction from the public. "I am shocked because, in my own case, I have 60% attendance for 100% performance", noted one participant. Several people then stressed the need to distinguish between flexibility that you can choose and flexibility that is imposed.

This theme was illustrated perfectly at the next conference, hosted by René Clarisse and Nadine Le Floc'h, psychologists and lecturers at the University of Tours. As specialists in chronopsychology they were able to demonstrate the importance of respecting the child’s daily, weekly and annual rhythms, providing more information about the peaks and troughs in attention depending on the time and the seasons. They also provided some interesting data on the needs of children in terms of "parenting time" or, put another way, in terms of a "safe haven", warning about unpredictable working schedules and weekend working for parents, two sources of stress for children with consequences for their attention levels and therefore their capacity for learning.

The stakeholders’ point of view

The five afternoon workshops were an opportunity to review the situation and to discuss the support structures from the perspective of the various stakeholders: public or private schools, extra-curricular associations, companies, family associations or public institutions. The tension between the need for flexibility and the need for security was very evident there.

On the one hand stakeholders are looking for more flexibility in order to open nurseries, create new after-school or extracurricular activities, extend child-care timetables, enable tailored work schedules for parents, etc. But these demands also run counter to another strong trend in society, the trend towards greater security: ever stricter legal and regulatory requirements, anxiety of parents faced with incidents and the academic and sporting performance of children, lack of tolerance for the noisy group activities of young people, stigmatisation of certain less advantaged backgrounds. "We live in a society where it is no longer conceivable that a child could step onto a football pitch alone", was a comment heard during the afternoon.

The workshop dedicated to public institutions also allowed attention to be focused on some serious cases requiring the intervention of the specialist services. There was a lot of discussion about the alienation of young people and the need to improve prevention, viewed as a social investment, but also to strengthen dialogue with parents, proximity and networking, and to try new ways of communicating.

A white paper from the Symposium on the Family will pick up and develop all of these themes. One small but important step for the family in Geneva may be transformed into a giant leap forward for society!

Poverty Eradication and Participation: Between Claims and Realities

Poverty Eradication and Participation: Between Claims and Realities

On 28 June 2016 the School of Social Work at the University of Applied Scienc-es and Arts Northwestern Switzerland will host the 2nd Conference on Social Planning in Basel. Organized by members of the National Centre of Compe-tence in Research LIVES, this event is open to all researchers and practitioners interested in issues of poverty eradication and participation.

In current planning for poverty eradication and prevention both public and private institutions apply procedures which include people for whom the programmes and measures are intended.

The conference proposes to discuss the current status of participation in poverty eradication campaigns, asking the question whether, and if so with what kind of claims and procedures public institutions, welfare associations, social organizations from private industry as well as foundations as civil society groups adopt and implement the participation of people living in poverty in the planning of their programmes and services.

In the fight and prevention against poverty cooperation between agents from the state and civil society will also be a focal point for the conference. A key question in this context will be how decision makers in public institutions and non-government-organizations succeed in putting into place a coordinated and sustainable system of programmes and services.

Two acknowledged experts from Switzerland and abroad will give keynote speeches, followed by 6 workshops which will delve into aspects such as the work with concerned young adults, neighbourhoods or long-term employed.

Organizing Committee:

Further Information & Registration

>> www.tagung-sozialplanung.ch (in German)

Image iStock © Taweepat

LIVES Best Paper Award 2016 for Early Scholars: 2,000 Euros

In order to stimulate advances in the areas of vulnerability and life course studies, the Swiss National Centre of Competence in Research LIVES encourages scholars at the beginning of their career to apply to the LIVES Best Paper Award 2016 for Early Scholars.

The award will be delivered during the next Society for Longitudinal and Life Course Studies (SLLS) conference in Bamberg, Germany, between 5 - 8 October 2016. In addition to the award, travelling expenses, conference and hotel fees (up to 3 nights) will be covered to join the event.

Participation Criteria

  • The paper must be empirical (qualitative, quantitative, or mixed-method) and make an important contribution to the domain of vulnerability and life course research. The study would preferably be longitudinal and/or interdisciplinary.
  • The paper must have been published (including online first) in English in a peer-reviewed journal in the year 2015.
  • To be eligible for the award, you must be the main contributor and have received your PhD (graduation date) after January 1st, 2009. 

Application deadline

You can apply to the award until July 31th, 2016, by submitting your contact details, a short paragraph (100 words max) explaining why you think your paper deserves to win, and the pdf of your paper in the format of the journal which published it.

>> Please click here to apply

Photo iStock © Aldo Murillo

Climbing the social ladder is as difficult nowadays as it was several decades ago

A study by Julie Falcon, published in the journal Social Change in Switzerland, shows that social mobility in Switzerland was not notably improved in the 20th century by the democratisation of education and the tertiarisation of the economy.

Switzerland's profile may have changed dramatically over the century, but the chances of reaching a better social position than one's parents did not change significantly. Only people born between 1908 and 1934 moved up the social hierarchy in greater numbers. The rate of social mobility for the generations that followed did not change. 40% of people born between 1935 and 1978 experienced upward social mobility compared with their fathers; 40% stayed in the same socio-professional category; and 20% suffered from a less advantageous social position.

To reach this conclusion, Julie Falcon, a researcher at the University of Lausanne, combined and analysed data from 21 surveys, compiling more than 17,000 observations. The social categories are divided into three groups: the upper middle class, which includes company managers, engineers, liberal and white-collar professionals, and teachers; the intermediary category, which consists of such occupations as shop owners, tradesmen, and farmers; the lower category, which groups less-qualified occupations, mainly sales and service assistants, and blue-collar workers.

Although four out of ten people succeeded in moving up the social scale, the rate did not increase over the decades, surprisingly. Does that mean that the impact of social class is just as strong as ever?

The researcher observed that the tertiarisation of the economy did create new opportunities for improved social mobility, due to the increase in managerial occupations. However, the level of education necessary for the more prestigious professions also increased. And social background still has considerable influence on access to education, with the middle and upper classes still overrepresented in the more demanding subjects. She also demonstrates that, "Qualifications alone do not guarantee improved social standing. Where there is an equivalent level of education, social background continues to have a strong influence on the chances of achieving better social status".

Julie Falcon concludes that, "During the 20th century in Switzerland, inequality between social classes neither decreased nor disappeared, but in fact remained the same".

>> Julie Falcon (2016). Mobilité sociale au 20e siècle en Suisse : entre démocratisation de la formation et reproduction des inégalités de classe / Soziale Mobilität in der Schweiz im 20. Jahrhundert: zwischen Demokratisierung der Bildung und Fortbestand der Klassenungleichheiten. [Social mobility in the 20th century in Switzerland: between democratisation of education and the reproduction of social inequality]. Social Change in Switzerland No 5. Retrieved from www.socialchangeswitzerland.ch

Contact : Julie Falcon, +41 21 692 37 89, julie.falcon@unil.ch

The series Social Change in Switzerland documents the evolution of Switzerland’s social structure. It is edited by the Swiss Centre of Expertise in the Social Sciences FORS, the Life Course and Inequalities Research Centre of the University of Lausanne LINES , and the Swiss National Centre of Competence in Research LIVES – Overcoming Vulnerability: Life Course Perspectives (NCCR LIVES). The aim is to monitor change in employment, family, income, mobility, voting, or gender in Switzerland. Based on cutting edge empirical research, the series targets a wider audience than just academic experts.

Photo © Annick Ramp / Biel/Bienne Festival of Photography / NCCR LIVES

Showing and discussing vulnerability in Switzerland is also looking at overcoming it

The National Centre of Competence in Research LIVES supported the work of three young photographers for six months. Their pictures will be displayed at the upcoming Biel/Bienne Festival of Photography from 29 April to 22 May 2016. A publication entitled Downs and Ups. Visual Insights into Vulnerability and Resilience during the Life Course gathers some of these pictures and, over three chapters, describes the issues at the heart of life course research. The festival will also be hosting a round table event on 13 May at the Biel Congress Centre on "In/Visibility: Vulnerability in Switzerland – a non-issue or a real taboo?"

In mid-2015 three young women won an invitation-based competition launched by the NCCR LIVES and the Biel/Bienne Festival of Photography. They had been asked to propose a project based on the concepts of vulnerability and resilience. The artists then had from July to December to create their images. The adventure is now reaching its climax with the exhibition of these three series at the festival, which opens on 29 April. But the adventure will not really end after the exhibition closes on 22 May, because a book is being released containing a selection of these photographs accompanied by texts that explain to the general public what the scientific approach is to life course research.

The photography projects

Simone Haug worked with retired acrobats – former nomads who had had to resort to a sedentary lifestyle, artists who had reverted to total anonymity, former gymnasts who had to cope with a failing body. In the publication Downs and Ups, this presents an opportunity for Prof. Laura Bernardi to explain how the many threads that weave our lives are interconnected and able to cause stress or, on the contrary, provide compensatory resources. Familial, professional, residential and health paths overlap and sometimes conflict, but they can also be sources of solutions with respect to each other. The safety net is not always where you expect it.

Delphine Schacher engaged with the residents of the Bois des Frères, a complex of wooden huts just outside Geneva, awakening the childhood memories of Prof. Dario Spini. The son of immigrants and now Director of NCCR LIVES, he contemplates through the eyes of an adult and a researcher the different levels at which these life courses have an impact – an observation starting from the physical body and ending with the social norms that govern us all. Precariousness, marginality, resourcefulness and hope collide in the both harsh and fraternal environment of the subjects of the photographs, and in the professor's analysis.

Annick Ramp accompanied a transgender person, Sandra, aiming to show the inherited strengths and weaknesses of an out-of-the-ordinary destiny, marked by suffering, struggles, and victories. The book provides an opportunity to understand the importance of observing life courses over time. There is a focus on the accumulation of disadvantages and on how individuals construct their own narrative, thus forging their identity on the basis of critical steps and transitions.

Stress and resources

Life course research is not familiar to the general public. In Switzerland it enjoys the support of the government, which has established a National Centre of Competence in Research funded for twelve years by the Swiss National Science Foundation. Since 2011 this has allowed roughly 150 researchers in the social sciences from a dozen universities and higher education institutions to conduct several longitudinal studies focusing on vulnerability, defined as a lack of resources (which can be psychological, physiological, social, economic, cultural and institutional) in the face of stressful events or phases in life (divorce, unemployment, migration, ageing, bereavement, etc.).

From this perspective, anyone can be affected by vulnerability at some point in their life. And as it is a dynamic phenomenon, it is not possible to conceive of vulnerability without its counterpart, resilience, whose origins need to be understood. Indeed, the study of life courses shows that while individuals are marked by their social and historical context, they also enjoy a certain capacity to act (what we call “agency”) and never stop developing throughout their lives.

Reaching the wider public

Part of the funding for NCCR LIVES is also intended for projects aiming to transfer knowledge to the general public, hence this collaboration with the Biel/Bienne Festival of Photography. The objective is first and foremost to use a language accessible to all – images – to address key issues that are often overlooked. Offering a platform for young photographers is another motivation for our research centre, which has already published several scientific articles focused on atypical occupations or the professional integration of young people.

As well as the three displays and the book, there will be a round table event on 13 May at the Biel Congress Centre. The issue of the visibility or invisibility of vulnerability in Switzerland will be discussed, with the aim of allowing debate with the public. Is vulnerability shown too much or not enough? Where can it be found? How can it be dealt with? Hosted by journalist Dominique Antenen, the event will bring together Felix Bühlmann, a sociologist at NCCR LIVES, Jérôme Cosandey, from Avenir Suisse, Eric Fehr, Mayor of Biel, Thérèse Frösch, co-president of the Swiss Conference of Social Action Institutions, and Delphine Schacher, photographer.

In a town at the crossroads of French and German cultures, with one of the highest rates of social assistance in Switzerland, this series of events in Biel promises an interesting national debate.

>> Exhibitions: Simone Haug: Acrobates !. Delphine Schacher: Bois des Frères. Annick Ramp: Sandra - Ich bin eben doch eine Frau. From 29 April to 22 May 2016, PhotoforumPasquArt, Biel.

>> Hélène Joye-Cagnard and Emmanuelle Marendaz Colle (eds.) (2016). Downs and Ups. Visual Insights into Vulnerability and Resilience during the Life Course. Ghent: Snoeck Publishers. 108 p. (trilingual FR/DE/EN). To order: office@jouph.ch

>> Round table In/Visibility: Vulnerability in Switzerland – a non-issue or a real taboo? 13 May at 6.15pm, Biel Conference Centre (simultaneous interpretation French/German).

>> Tour: Life courses by Dario Spini, Director of NCCR LIVES. Guided tour of exhibitions by Simone Haug, Annick Ramp and Delphine Schacher, 14 May from 4pm to 5.30pm.

>> Full programme of the Biel/Bienne Festival of Photography available at http://www.bielerfototage.ch/en

© Simone Haug: self-portrait

Simone Haug: "I am fascinated by the potential for surrealism in the real"

The Bernese photographer undertook a task of great precision with five retired circus artists to illustrate vulnerability and resilience, the themes of the collaborative project between the National Centre of Competence in Research LIVES and the Biel/Bienne Festival of Photography. Her poetic images feature in an exhibition and a book soon to be released.

Simone Haug resembles her photographs: subtle and delicate. She seems to brush over things, but also identifies and underlines them with a rare exactitude, highlighted by a playful vision. Her latest work, entitled Acrobates!, will be exhibited at the Biel/Bienne Festival of Photography from 29 April to 22 May 2016. The project is part of a mandate given by the NCCR LIVES and will also feature in the book, Downs and Ups, coinciding with the exhibition.

Simone chose the town of Biel as her home: "I have always loved the relaxed atmosphere. When I was still at school in Bern, I used to secretly take the train to Biel and sit in a coffee shop near the station. It's a town with possibilities, with a sincere spirit. It's warm and open. I feel that very strongly when I walk around here – there is an everyday culture. Even the supermarket cashiers are different in Biel. In Bern there are more labels, the weight of an official culture. Here things are more informal and direct."

So of course she is already familiar with the photography festival organised in Biel every year for the last 20 years. She has even already exhibited her works at the festival, with a friend in 2006: a series entitled Asile entre lieux et temps [Asylum between times and places]. But she is still a long way from considering herself an established photographer. Yet the 35-year-old confirms that things are getting better and better, with orders coming in. She also does interview transcriptions for sociologists – a task she appreciates: "I don't have to analyse, but it stimulates me," she explains.

Her photography project about retired circus artists shows five characters, including a couple, who she approached individually during the second half of 2015. She captures a great skilfulness and fragility, but also the force of these seniors with their heads still in the stars despite their diminished physical condition. Meet the author of these original and sensitive images.

How did you get into photography?

I have always liked to watch. Images figured prominently in my family. So photography seemed to be the ideal tool for producing images. I was quite young when I learnt to use a camera. It has become a sort of compass for me, for discovering the world and my environment. From my teens, it absorbed me more and more. I joined a group of autodidacts created in Zurich in the 80s. We invited experienced photographers, but self-organisation was the basic principle. Then I studied sociology, but what I really wanted to do was take photos. So I decided to take that direction, and went to the Hamburg fine arts university. I didn't want to go to a school purely for photography. I wanted to avoid being conditioned. I love being free, and I thought it was better to nourish my development differently.

What remains from your sociology studies?

I think sometimes it influences me subconsciously. It taught me to consider several points of view, and gave me a theoretical base. But the assertions bother me in that discipline. It's the same in photography: I refuse anything that categorises. I don't consider myself a creator of documentaries who proposes a definite message. What I like about sociology is the subject matter, not the methods. So I tried to stay away from them.

What is a good photo in your opinion?

For me, it's an image with a lot of freedom. It gives just enough information about the context, and leaves a lot of room for interpretation. I prefer the mix and balance between the abstract on one hand; and on the other hand, the minimum necessary number of concrete points of reference. I am fascinated by the potential for surrealism in the real. And I find that photography really makes it possible to portray that. What's more, being a photographer makes it possible for me to share things with people, and give something back, a sort of acknowledgement. That contributes to my interest in images too. For example, I'm impressed by the series by Iren Stehli, Libuna, which followed a woman throughout her whole life. That's one of the strengths of photography: it captures the dimension of passing time.

How did you work on this project about retired acrobats?

I have always been fascinated by the circus – a world of illusions where physical limits are constantly surpassed. But it was the invitation to bid by LIVES and the Biel Festival of Photography which gave me the idea to contact former acrobats. I love venturing into new worlds and meeting people. I don't usually stage my photos. But the artists are used to the stage. I wanted to work with them, do something together. When talking with them, staging the scenes came naturally. We didn't have a lot of time, but I am glad to have found a form which suited people in their situation. I like the mysteriousness of these pictures. It shows what circus artists like to do: create mystery for the audience. And I used black and white for several photos to make them more abstract. Being less realistic, it provokes the imagination. I also find that black and white underlines the notion of equilibrium which is integral to the subject.

How would you describe the resilience in your characters?

I see resilience in their everyday attitude. The professional life of a circus artist is uncompromising. Even retired, they are still acrobats in their minds. It shows, for example, when changing a light bulb. Not many retired wives climb onto their husband's shoulder for that! They are always wanting to play, to be on stage. The five people I met are all at peace with their former profession. Each of them had done what they could. They agreed on the fact that it was important to find the right time to stop. Each story is different, but they had all faced difficulties and found the strength to overcome different situations.

What are you most proud of in this project about the acrobats?

Of the projection, which will be shown in the exhibition during the Festival: I like the idea of creating a little show. It is a montage of photographs that are underlined by the sound of a Japanese drum. It's the first time I have exhibited this type of process. I had already used it for another project, but I had never shown it.

>> Simone Haug's page on the festival website

© Delphine Schacher: self-portrait

Delphine Schacher: "Accessing to invisible places" through photography

The photographer from Vaud presents her series Bois des Frères [Brothers' Wood], about the inhabitants of the former seasonal workers' huts in the Geneva suburb in a twofold project – an exhibition and a book; a collaborative project with the National Centre of Competence in Research LIVES and the Biel/Bienne Festival of Photography.

Delphine Schacher's house, nestled in a valley just outside Begnins and adjoining the family sawmill, belonged to her grandparents. The photographer, born in 1981, has her roots in the region. This is where she took her first pictures, before even graduating from the Vevey School of photography. As one of the three prize-winners of the invitation-based competition launched by the NCCR LIVES with the theme "Vulnerability and Resilience", her photographs will be exhibited from 29 April to 22 May 2016 at the Biel/Bienne Festival of Photography. The photos also illustrate the book Downs and Ups associated with the project.

Delphine Schacher first received recognition for her work entitled Petite Robe de Fête [Little Party Dress], which portrayed young Romanian teenage girls in their Sunday best in a pastoral setting. It was a journey back in time – defying time too, as initially she went looking for people photographed by her father 20 years before, on a trip marking the twinning of their town with a Romanian village. "It was the first time my father travelled so far, and the first time I saw him cry. He was so moved by the people and their difficult living conditions," she tells. She, who ironically describes herself as "a modern-day explorer from the easyJet generation, hopping on an off planes so easily".

For the Biel LIVES project, she took her camera to the huts previously used to lodge seasonal workers, close to the Lignon housing estate, near the Cointrin airport. This precarious and dilapidated housing is still in use today. Now it is home to men with varying life stories. She spent time getting close to these men, and magnified their modesty and dignity. Interview.

How did you get into photography?

It all started when I was about 20. I am one of three children, and I was the only one without an artistic activity. My brother played the drums and my sister played the flute. As for me, I spent my teenage years partying while studying for an apprenticeship in business and a vocational Matura. But I didn't imagine I would do that all my life. I was looking for something more creative. So I started taking evening courses, first in sewing, then graphic design. But I wasn't convinced. Then I realised I liked collecting photos from newspapers. So I enrolled in a photography course in the area, and I was hooked immediately. We had to do photo reports. I enjoyed meeting people and entering places which would have been inaccessible without the photography alibi. The theme for my first report and exhibition for the course was "A night in the life of...". I chose to follow an employee who worked on a rotary press at the newspaper, Journal de la Côte. I loved feeling out of my element, that I had to make my own way. What's more, the press operator liked the photos and was pleased. So I continued in that direction and registered with the Focale club, which organises workshops. I had two months to work on the theme of "Shadows". Thanks to a socio-cultural worker who had set up a photo lab in the Lonay prison, I was able to follow jailed women. And there again I enjoyed accessing to invisible places.

Where did the inspiration for the Lignon huts idea come from?

It's a subject that I've had in mind for a long time. In 2010 I had to work on a project with the theme "Periphery" for Focale. I remembered having seen a television report about the workers' huts at the airport being destroyed. So I called the Unia union to find out if there were any remaining. That's when I found out about the Lignon site. Then, when I was studying photography at Vevey, I went back there. The place hadn't changed, but I felt like I'd worked too hastily, that I had missed the heart of the subject. I had taken a few portraits but I hadn't talked with the people. This time I was able to go into their homes. I took a step closer to them, not only physically, but emotionally. I dared to go further, looking for postures. I thought more carefully about how to create a scene. It helped that I had a mandate, that there were expectations. The theme "Vulnerability and Resilience" also guided my choices. I wanted to portray the men living in those huts – pay tribute to them. They aren't just people passing through.

How did you go about it?

I spent July and August 2015 observing. In some cases, I had already met them before. Then from September to December, I went on-site two to three times each week, sometimes during the day, sometimes in the evening. I didn't always take photos. Sometimes I just spent time with them. I wanted to feel the seasons passing, but I didn't want it to be clear which year it was. I prefer when it's not clear whether the photos were taken in the 70s, or the 90s, or now. That's why I avoided showing clothes with brands or shopping bags. The place is ageless! I also tried to give a pictorial theme to some of the images, certain attitudes... I shot 25 rolls of analogue film. It's a technique which makes you take your time, arrange things.

What's a good photo in your opinion?

First of all, the light has to be natural. There has to be something going on, something mysterious or disturbing: for example, a strange object, or a fragile position.

Which of the images do you think shows the most resilience?

I like the photo with the sausage grill in the shared kitchen. It shows people making do, managing with little room. They live like everyone else, but in a smaller space. And there is the portrait, taken in an instant, of Augusto in his snappy clothes with his frying pan. It's the image of a man who has bounced back. It seems to say, "I don't have a kitchen, but that doesn't stop me living a normal life and wearing a smart shirt." These people live with the bare minimum, but they are not despairing. That said, this is clearly not an objective description. I didn't see everyone, and some didn't want to be photographed. Perhaps it's much harder for them. But there are also beautiful examples of resilience. Such as José who is from Cap-Vert: he is one of my favourites – one of the first people I talked with in 2010. He barely spoke French then, and now he's found a job. He is manager in a scaffolding company. Scaffolding is his passion – a whole world. He showed me photos on his phone. I can tell you, since then I haven't seen scaffolding in the same way! Finally, there are those pictures featuring cats and caged birds. That may suggest confinement in confinement. But it also shows that people need someone to look after...

>> Delphine Schacher's page on the festival website

© Annick Ramp: self-portrait

Annick Ramp: “I hope that with my work on Sandra people can feel empathy”

For the bid on the topic “Vulnerability and Resilience”, the youngest winner of the LIVES photography grant, who is based in Zurich, produced portraits of a transgender person: Sandra. Her collection will be shown at the Biel/Bienne Festival of Photography and a selection of these images will be published in a book.

Among the three female photographers who participated in the project of the Swiss National Centre of Competence in Research LIVES and the Biel/Bienne Festival of Photography, Annick Ramp is the only one who has not yet reached the age of 30. But despite her young age, her career as a photographer is already well established. She will take one more step by exhibiting her portraits of Sandra, a transgender person, during the 20th edition of the festival between April 29 and May 22, 2016. Some of these pictures are also included in the book Downs and Ups.

Annick Ramp works as a photographer for the Neue Zürcher Zeitung on a half-time basis, which she finds is a good balance allowing her to pursue more personal in-depth works. She lives in a popular district west of Zurich main station, a place she appreciates for its multicultural and relaxed atmosphere.

Her project on Sandra was selected to illustrate vulnerability and resilience because she has a real talent for approaching bodies and souls in an infinitely respectful way. Her photos depict a joyful person with also darker aspects, a complex figure who despite the lifelong struggles which have left their imprints has succeeded in overcoming a lot of suffering. We met Annick Ramp for some insights on her approach.

How did you come to photography?

After school I did a commercial apprenticeship but quickly realised that this would not make me happy. I knew that I would like to do something with photography but did not know how to proceed. My father was the one who got me in touch with photography at the first time. Then, when I was 19, I travelled to New Zealand. My parents lived there for 5 years and I was born in Auckland, but they left when I was 8 months old. So I wanted to see the place, meet the people, and this is where I started to take photos. I focused on lines, landscapes, not many people. Back in Switzerland I enrolled in a pre-course in art and later I left Schaffhausen for Zurich, where I knew I wanted to live. For one year I studied different kinds of art and visual communication. After that I enrolled for the degree course “Fotodesign” in Zurich. At this point I had the opportunity to get a one-year internship with a photographer, and there I figured out what really interests me, which is the kind of photography I do now, which is people oriented. After finishing my studies I got another internship with the Neue Zürcher Zeitung, where I completed my training and eventually was lucky to be hired.

What are you looking for when photographing people?

I like showing different kinds of people, different ideas of life. During my first internship I took pictures of an eccentric man who is quite famous in Schaffhausen, named Heinz Möckli. For two months I stuck to him, and realised that this was not only a job for me. It also gives me something back. I love watching how human beings live in their environment and the multiple ways they have of seeing that environment. I am particularly interested in those people who do not live the regular way.

How did you meet Sandra?

For the final work of my studies I covered a specialised institution, which supports people who are partially or temporarily not able to live independently due to addiction problems, mental illnesses or other impairments. One evening Sandra was there, and I saw her again later at the bus station. I found her fascinating. She looked fragile and strong at the same time. I could see that she had good self-esteem. We talked, she sang. She looked female but there was also something masculine. She spoke openly about it, but she refused to pose for a photo. After that I always had her in mind. I tried to get in touch with her through Facebook, but she did not write back. I tried again through her music bandleader, and he suggested joining a rehearsal session on Thursdays. I went there and she remembered me. Then I proposed to take portraits of her and she accepted. It went this way for two or three months, but I did not know in which way I would bring her story together. And then the LIVES’ and Biel/Bienne Festival of Photography’s invitation arrived. The concept was there!

What do you think is the photo, in this collection, which exemplifies most the theme of resilience?

The one with the fog: it was not staged at all. We were in a theatre rehearsal and there was this machine that creates smoke, and I caught her next to it. Sometimes she’s loosing herself and escapes reality. She escapes to some other place, dreaming, eyes closed. This picture made me realise there is something to show about her, and also that it needs time to approach it.

How did you proceed with Sandra for this work?

I could not force anything. I never told her “You should do this or that”. We hung out for days and I had to catch the right moments. The most difficult thing for me, afterwards, was not so much to make choices, but to reduce to the very best pictures and make order out of them. It fascinates me to put a collection of photos together. It’s really intense. I can spend weeks moving scattered pictures on the floor until I decide which one is really necessary or not, which ones express the right view. It is also a question of respect for my subjects. I showed my selection to Sandra and she accepted to be seen also during the bad moments. She is completely aware of her story and she is conscious that she is not always in the best possible mood. It was important for me that she accepts and understands my choices, but did not let her influence me too much either. I hope that with my work on Sandra people can feel empathy. I find it weird that this society has this strange order of male versus female aspects.

What is a good image, in your sense?

First of all it has to touch me in some way. I appreciate if I can figure out that the photographer has done it with empathy, that the subject is not being used just for the sake of a good picture. I like photos that have something to say, which provoke emotions and also contain some poetry. I tend to look at photography in series, because often I find it difficult to understand something just with one picture. I think there can be more differentiated statements if pictures correspond with each other.

>> Annick Ramp's page on the Festival website

Image iStock © ra-photos

LIVES international conference - Relationships in later life: Challenges and opportunities

The conference will take place on June 28-29, 2016 at the University of Bern. Featuring ten invited talks including five keynote speeches and five lectures from NCCR LIVES researchers, it is structured around two main topics: "Patterns of adaptation to interpersonal loss in later life and their determinants" and "Interventions and preventive measures addressing loneliness or bereavement as well as the promotion of positive relationships in later life". There will also be two poster sessions. Deadline for submissions is June 6.

KEYNOTE SPEECHES

  • Self-Concept regulation and resilience to interpersonal loss
    > Prof. Dr. Anthony MANCINI, Pace University (NY)
  • Adaptation to bereavement in late life
    > Prof. Dr Margret STROEBE, University of Utrecht
  • Making connections: loneliness interventions in later life
    > Prof. Dr. Nan STEVENS, VU University Amsterdam; Radboud University, Nijmegen
  • Social network compensation in later life: resourcefulness, resilience, and constraints
    > Prof. Dr. Karen ROOK, University of California Irvine
  • Resilience research, resilience promotion, and the role of flexibility
    > Prof. Dr. George BONANNO, Columbia University (NY)

Presentation of the conference

Close relationships are crucial for well-being in later life. Social support and companionship contribute to life satisfaction, positive affect and health and reduce the adverse effects of stress. In contrast, poor relationship quality and ambivalence represent risk factors, for couples as well as individuals sharing other close ties, such as adult children and their parents. Breakup of an intimate partnership through bereavement or divorce is frequent in later life and is one of the most stressful life events. This can pose a significant challenge to psychological well-being, particularly in a stage of life, when social and physical resources are declining. Nevertheless, older adults differ considerably in their patterns of adaptation and how well they cope with the loss of a partner.

The general goal of this conference is to combine vulnerability and resilience-oriented research lines with intervention studies in order to analyse what facilitates or hinders successful regulation of interpersonal loss and relationship challenges in later life. The conference is structured around two main topics: 1) Patterns of adaptation to interpersonal loss in later life and their determinants; and 2) interventions and preventive measures addressing loneliness or bereavement as well as the promotion of positive relationships in later life.

The conference will feature 10 invited talks of about 45 or 30 minutes + 15 minutes of discussion and a round table discussion. Four sessions will cover the following topics:

1. Patterns of adaptation to divorce and bereavement

This session examines different patterns of psychological adaptation after divorce and bereavement. Both, bereavement as an age-normative life-event and marital breakup as a less frequent event “intentionally initiated” transition require psychosocial adaptation. The large inter-individual differences in this adaptation process are still not well understood.

Prof. Dr. Anthony Mancini (Pace University, NY) will focus on resilience as the most frequent pattern of adaptation to interpersonal loss and highlight intra- and interpersonal resources that predict resilience. He proposes that interpersonal losses are fundamentally a threat to the self. This will be explored related to cross-cultural findings, emotion regulation of loss-related affect, autobiographical memory and loss appraisals.

Prof. Dr. Pasqualina Perrig-Chiello (University of Bern) will address the new social phenomenon of divorce in Swiss older adults. She will present recent longitudinal findings on adaptation patterns and factors that account for recovery or chronicity such as intrapersonal resources or relationship variables.

2. Coping with interpersonal loss

Based on a theoretical background on coping with interpersonal loss, this session gives an overview of ways, how older people try to cope with interpersonal loss or bereavement. Adaptive ways of coping will be investigated.

Prof. Dr. Margret Stroebe (University of Utrecht) will examine main findings on coping with bereavement in general and specific to later life. Results will be considered through the perspective of the Dual Process Model of Coping and potential extensions of the model as well as a broader perspective of an integrative risk factor framework will be presented.

Prof. Dr. Michel Oris (University of Geneva) will present how friendships among the elderly have evolved over thirty years and how friendships relate to family relationships. He will examine whether presence of friends contribute to the coping process and subjective well-being in the case of accidents, hospitalisations, bereavement or frailty.

Prof. Dr. Daniela Jopp (University of Lausanne) will draw on two centenarian studies to elaborate on the relationship between very old parents and their advanced age children. She will describe the unique challenges of centenarian and their social support network and examine factors that could protect from loneliness and poor well-being at this very advanced age.

3. Interventions for loneliness and complicated grief after divorce or bereavement

One of the most frequently reported consequences of interpersonal loss are feelings of loneliness which are very frequent in older people. Loneliness contributes to persistent psychosocial problems and poorer health behaviour that effects physical, emotional and cognitive functioning.

Prof. Dr. Nan Stevens (VU University Amsterdam; Radboud University, Nijmegen) will present several effective interventions to reduce loneliness in old age including a widow(er)-to widow(er) visiting program to promote successful adaptation by providing companionship, information and a role model as well as an intervention offering training and means to engage in social contracts digitally.

A smaller group of divorced or bereaved individuals struggle in their adaptation to interpersonal loss or even develop psychological disorders such as depression or complicated grief, which need to be diagnosed and treated.

Prof. Dr. Hansjörg Znoj (University of Bern) will give an overview of grief reactions on the background of a schema-based inconsistency model. He will focus on mechanisms how grief becomes a prolonged grief disorder and present psychotherapeutic interventions as well as a guided internet-based self-help intervention addressing grief symptoms in later life.

4. Promoting well-being and resilience in later life

The last session aims at integrating resource and vulnerability focused lines of research on social relationships and addresses possibilities to foster resilience and well-being in old age.

Prof. Dr. Karen Rook (University of California Irvine) will address the question how older adults seek to reorganise their social lives after an interpersonal loss. She will examine to what extend and how alternative sources of social support and companionship can compensate for the loss of a key social relationship and what other compensatory processes may help to preserve older adult’s resourcefulness and resilience.

Prof. Dr. Eric Widmer (University of Geneva) will explore the associations between quality of life, social support and conflict structures in family networks of the elderly, also addressing the impact of negative and ambivalent family relationships. The importance of conflicts for adjustment to old age will be discussed.

Prof. Dr. George Bonanno (Columbia University, NY) will finally present a general overview of resilience research and discuss the question of why people are resilient. One focus will be on the construct of regulatory flexibility as both a predictor of resilient outcomes and a possible avenue to help people become more resilient.

>> Call for abstracts for poster presentations

Practical information

  • Registration deadline is June 20, 2016.
  • The conference will be held during two days, Tuesday, 28th and Wednesday, 29th June 2016 at the University of Bern, Switzerland.
  • The venue is UniS, close to the railway station.
  • Coffee and lunch breaks, poster sessions as well as two wine receptions will offer plenty of opportunities for informal networking.
  • Participants who do not belong to the NCCR LIVES and/or the Department of Psychology of the University of Bern shall pay a small fee of 150 CHF for conference attendance including catering (students, alumni of NCCR LIVES and the University of Bern, one-day participants, and members of SWIPPA shall only pay 80 CHF).
  • Everyone is kindly asked to register online (see below), as the number of participants is limited.
  • Conference participants can get reduced prices at the Sorel Hotel Ador (single room for CHF 150). For other accommodations, please refer to the Bern Tourism Office's hotel list.

Organising and scientific committee

Contacts: lives@psy.unibe.ch

SUBMISSION FORM FOR POSTER PRESENTATIONS

Deadline: June 6, 2016

REGISTRATION FORM FOR ATTENDING THE EVENT

Deadline: June 20, 2016

Photo Hugues Siegenthaler

A young "LIVES" author wins award for a paper on single parenthood and health

Emanuela Struffolino is the 2015 winner of the Population Young Author Prize. The journal is edited by the French National Institute for Demographic Studies (INED). The series LIVES Working Papers had published a first version of her article last year.

INED and the journal Population announced on February 29, 2016 that the Population Young Author Prize has been awarded to Emanuela Struffolino for her paper "Self-reported health among lone mothers: Do employment and education matter?", written in collaboration with Laura Bernardi and Marieke Voorpostel. This award was recently created in tribute to Valeria Solesin, a PhD student at Université Paris 1 and hosted at INED, who died at the Bataclan concert hall in Paris during the terrorist attacks of 13 November  2015.

Abstract

Lone mothers are more likely to be unemployed and in poverty, which are both factors associated with a risk of poor health. In Switzerland, weak work-family reconciliation policies and taxation that favours married couples adopting the traditional male breadwinner model translate into low labour market participation rate for mothers.

In the case of lone mothers, employment can be associated with better health because it eases the potential economic hardship associated with being the sole earner. However, working can represent an additional stress factor due to lone mothers’ responsibility as the main caregiver. We investigate how family arrangements and employment status are associated with self-reported health in Switzerland.

Our analyses on the Swiss Household Panel (waves 1999-2011) suggest that lone mothers who are out of the labour market have a higher probability of reporting poor health, especially if holding an upper-secondary diploma. Lone mothers reported being in better health when working full-time vs. part-time, whereas the opposite applied to mothers living with a partner.

--

>> Struffolino, E., Bernardi, L., & Voorpostel, M.. (2016). Self-reported Health among Lone Mothers in Switzerland: Do Employment and Education Matter? Population-E, 71 (2), 187-214

A first version of the article had been published in 2015 by the LIVES Working Papers:

>> Struffolino, E., Bernardi, L., & Voorpostel, M.. (2015). Self-reported health among lone mothers: Do employment and education matter?. LIVES Working Papers, 2015(44), 1-28.

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