Thesis completed

Aeby Gaëlle

Réseaux personnels en Suisse, trajectoires familiales et valeurs 

Sous la direction de Jacques-Antoine Gauthier et Eric Widmer

Les proches, membres de la famille ou amis, sont des ressources relationnelles indispensables pour les individus. La question « Qui sont les personnes importantes dans votre vie actuellement ? » permet d'appréhender la situation relationnelle des individus à un moment donné. Dans ma thèse, je chercherai donc d'abord à comprendre les configurations et les dynamiques des réseaux personnels. Ensuite, dans la perspective du parcours de vie, je mettrai ces réseaux en lien avec la trajectoire familiale des individus. Je me demanderai par exemple si les trajectoires marquées par des discontinuités, tel qu'un divorce, sont davantage associées à des réseaux personnels plus déconnectés. Enfin, je relierai réseaux personnels et trajectoires de vie à un certain nombre de valeurs. Cette thèse utilise les résultats de l'étude FNS « Family TiMes » (fond no 100017_130343 / 1). Huit cents personnes, représentatives des trois principales régions linguistiques de Suisse et appartenant à deux cohortes de naissance distinctes, 1950-55 et 1970-75, ont été interviewées en 2011.

Antonini Matteo - Coping with unemployment: strategies and resources

PdD Supervisor : Laura Bernardi

This project investigates the socio-psychological strategies used to face a situation of vulnerability due to a period of unemployment. This topic is split in three main questions:

1. Do the work trajectories follow typical paths when characterized by a period of unemployment?
2. Which strategies do the actors use to organize their resources and cope with this period of vulnerability?
3. Do these strategies change in time and space?

The analysis is based on individual employment trajectories codified from the longitudinal information collected in the Swiss Household Panel. The sequences are aligned on the first month of unemployment; recurrent paths are described and related to a wide set of resources including economic, demographic, relational, psychological and emotional factors. Time influence is considered distinguishing the trajectories occurred in the pre-2008 European economic crisis and the trajectories occurred in the successive period. Geographical variations are considered comparing the sequences from five Swiss macro-regions defined according to the differences in local policies against unemployment. Methodologically, I apply a life course perspective and a multidimensional approach using sequence analysis and statistical modelling. The central methodological issue is to go beyond descriptions of static variable associations to a description of relationships between processes.

Araujo Pedro - Elites and Occupational Careers in the Swiss Banking Industry (1980-2010)

PhD Supervisor : Felix Bühlmann

This thesis endeavours to understand the evolution of the Swiss Banking Industry between 1980 and 2010 from a life course perspective. It concentrates on two groups of actors: Elites and Young professionals. The study will address the two following research questions: 1) We want to explore how the historical development of the Swiss banking field has affected the composition of its elites. What type of resources do the banking elites possess? How have they been acquired and how have they evolved across the two selected periods? 2) We seek to examine what are the careers patterns and the representations of a cohort of young banking professionals. What are their educational and occupational trajectories? How do they differ in terms of resources? To what extend do the careers of elites and young professionals share common characteristics? In order to tackle these questions we apply a mixed method design that combines sequential analysis, multiple correspondence analysis and biographical interviews. We use an existing database on Swiss elites that we will extend by the collection of additional data on banking elites and we will conduct a survey with young professionals working for less than 10 years in the bank field.


Baumann Isabel - Workers' occupational trajectory after plant closure

PdD Supervisor : Daniel Oesch

This study examines the impact of job displacement on the occupational trajectory of affected employees’ about eighteen moths after job loss. It analyses the reintegration process of workers displaced by recent plant closures in Switzerland’s manufacturing sector.

The main research questions are:
- Do the workers experience loss of earnings?
- In what job (occupation and sector) are they re-employed?
- What resources, constraints and strategies determine the characteristics of workers’ positions after reintegration, in terms of their wages, occupation and satisfaction with work and income?

Our study is based on micro-surveys of approximately one thousand employees of five large industrial firms in Switzerland that shut down in 2009 and 2010. The surveys cover all employees who worked in these plants, including those who secured a new job directly after the announcement of closure. The results will be compared to a reference group created on the basis of the Swiss Labour Force Survey (SAKE) and administrative data.

Benz Pierre - From Natural Sciences to Life Sciences. Academic Elites of Chemistry and Biology in Switzerland in the 20th Century

PhD Supervisor : Felix Bühlmann


From the 1980s onwards, financial markets grew in size, a wave of mergers transformed the business landscape and the power constellations of actors in the global economy were facing profound changes. In the wake of these transformations, around the early 2000s, the top five hedge fund managers made higher earnings than the global top 500 CEOs altogether. The PhD project aims to investigate the careers, networks and practices of these high fee earning individuals, who are at the helm of firms such as hedge funds, private equity firms, sovereign wealth funds and accountancy networks and the role they play in the current, finance-led capitalism. More specifically, the project revolves around three dimensions: access to top positions within accountancy firms, coordination of different subgroups of financial intermediaries through multi-layered networks and spread of compensation and offshorisation practices across the network. The research will take advantage of the industry for financial and company data, that generates information on millions of companies and top executives world-wide. To deal with these large data sets, the project relies on various quantitative approaches, ranging from multiple correspondence analysis to network analysis and regression models.


Brandle Karen - Trajectoires de précarité

Sous la direction de Dario Spini

La thèse s’inscrit dans le projet « Vulnerability processes across the life course : Cumulative disadvantages, critical events, and socio-psychosocial resources » du NCCR LIVES. L’objet de la recherche sera les trajectoires de précarité, en utilisant la définition de la précarité telle qu’elle est proposée par l’approche de la qualité sociale. Cette définition prend en compte plusieurs domaines de la vie pour définir la précarité plutôt que de se limiter au seul domaine économique. L’individu comme acteur central de sa vie est au centre de l’approche et la qualité sociale est définie par sa capacité d’agir et d’interagir dans la société. En partant de ce cadre de référence, j’aimerais explorer des trajectoires de personnes dans différentes situations de vie « précaires » à l’aide de méthodes biographiques, notamment les calendriers de vie, et en portant une attention particulière au contrôle perçu des sujets (agency, self-efficacy), ainsi qu’aux rapports avec les institutions qui prennent en charge des personnes dans des situations définies comme précaires par la société.

Dasoki Nora - Differences in well-being in the ageing process: analysis of retrospective perceptions of events and their relation to the stress process

PdD Supervidor : Dario Spini

The aim of this project is to understand differences in perceptions of well-being among the elderly by explaining them through the stress process and the life course. The events experienced and accumulated throughout a life mean that by the time people reach a certain age, they have unequal social and individual resources (Dannefer, on 2003). I concentrate on the relation between resources, well-being and the perception of past events. The aim is to understand differences in perceptions of well-being among the elderly by investigating the way they judge, retrospectively, the events which have marked their lives, taking into account the role of resources stemming from their different routes through life. It is thus a question of understanding how the current evaluation of certain events lived in past can influence how those events relate to well-being.


Eberhard Jakob - Educational Trajectories: Social Origin and Psychological Resources

PhD Supervisors : Florence Passy, Dominique Joye

This project focuses on the links between social origin, psychological resources and educational trajectories in Switzerland. The educational trajectories at the upper secondary level (apprenticeship, Matura, etc.), examined through sequence analysis, are at the center of the investigation. In relation to them the following questions are addressed: a) How do the social origin and the psychological resources influence these trajectories? b) How do the psychological resources evolve under the influence of the social origin and the educational trajectories? c) What is the impact of the upper secondary educational trajectory on the following educational path and the professional integration? And how is this impact modified by the social origin and the psychological resources? d) How do the detected links vary in relation to regional differences of the school system and the labour market? The main goal is to analyse how the impact of social origin on the educational trajectory can be compensated by psychological resources and what regional characteristics reduce it. Used databases: TREE and ch-x 2010/11.


Ehsan Annahita - Promoting Health through Community Action in Vaud

PhD Supervisor : Dario Spini 

Annahita Ehsan is a doctoral candidate in Social Sciences at the University of Lausanne, and a member of the Swiss School of Public Health. Before moving to Lausanne, she completed a B.A. in International Development Studies at McGill University, and a M.Sc. in Global Mental Health at King’s College London and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. She also worked as a research coordinator in a Participatory Action Research and Knowledge Translation Lab at the School of Physical and Occupational Therapy at McGill University, and in the Department of Neurology at the Montreal Children’s Hospital.


Her research looks at the social determinants of health, and community interventions to promote mental health. She is collaborating with a local community-based action research intervention to understand how social capital can be developed, and how this affects the mental health of older adults. She also has a mandate from the Swiss Federal Office for Public Health, to complete a report on critical life events and health-related risk behaviours in adult populations.


Eisner Léïla - Contextual normative anchoring of attitudes towards family lives

PhD Supervisor : Dario Spini 

The degree of tolerance towards different forms of family lives, such as gender roles and homosexuals couples, is in constant changes. These changes can be formal through new rights, but also informal through changes in opinions and norms. Thus, they are related to individuals’ life styles, their attitudes, but also the institutional and social contexts in which they take part. In Switzerland, same-sex couples face these changes. Indeed, same-sex marriage is not legal, whereas same-sex partnership was adopted through popular elections in 2005. Issues related to homosexual rights are becoming politically salient and Swiss citizens will probably have to vote for same-sex marriage in the near future. Within this changing context, it is important to better understand individuals’ attitudes towards different forms of family as much as their contextual anchoring. In addition to these goals, another part of my work focuses on methodological and theoretical aspects. How could a social representation approach help to better address the contextual nature of attitudes? How to measure norms? Where does the norm intervene? To answer these questions, in addition to secondary data, we conducted a study in the Canton of Vaud in order to collect attitudes and perceived norms towards different forms of family lives.


Falcon Julie - Social mobility trends and mechanisms in Switzerland: An integrated analysis using classical mainstream approaches and the life course paradigm

PhD Supervisor : Dominique Joye

Numerous studies have looked at intergenerational social mobility trends and their underlying mechanisms in industrialised countries. However, to date little research has been carried out on this issue in Switzerland. Furthermore, by incorporating a life course perspective into classical mainstream approaches, my thesis aims to expand our understanding of social mobility processes. I employ a wide range of methods (e.g. log-linear models, event history analysis and multilevel models) to conduct a quantitative analysis based on more than 12 existing datasets, including the Swiss Household Panel. One part examines trends in intergenerational social mobility over time in Switzerland. In a second part, I analyse the driving mechanisms of social mobility over the life course and across time and place, with a specific focus on gender differences and the impact of occupational sex-segregation.

Glaeser Stéphanie - Vulnerabilities, identities, communities – a contextual analysis of climates of exclusion and solidarity in Switzerland

PhD Supervisor : Dominique Joye

The aim of this project is to study community climates in Switzerland by combining multilevel analyses and spatial approaches. The purpose is to analyse the role contextual factors play in the construction of local realities of exclusion or solidarity, in particular when the population is confronted with problematized minorities like asylum seekers: Which collective identities are relevant in contemporary Switzerland and how are they mobilized by political discourses that provide interpretative frameworks of collective vulnerabilities? To what extent does exposure to these discourses shape attitudes and behaviour towards minorities? How is the reception of these discourses influenced by prevailing climates of social trust and cohesion, and how are these climates in turn shaped by social inequalities? To study these questions, contextual indicators based on secondary sources will be linked to data from an original postal survey and to a more qualitative analysis of the observed dynamics in selected areas.

Gross Dinah - How Gender and Class Norms Shape our Worldview: Occupational Representations of Teenagers in Switzerland

PhD Supervisors : Felic Bühlmann, Dominique Joye

Representations that teenagers have of occupations, especially in terms of sex-type and prestige, are often taken to ground their occupational aspirations. On the basis of a questionnaire submitted to a sample of 3125 12 to 15-year-old students and their parents in Switzerland, I explore how occupational representations vary according to gender and class, how they relate to each other, and how they influence occupational aspirations.

I find that occupational representations in terms of gender vary on the basis of respondent sex, gender identity, and sexism, and contribute to a hierarchical and segregated view of occupations deemed appropriate to each sex. I also find that prestige and masculinity are more strongly associated by students in dominant groups (males and students in high-requirement school tracks). I investigate the influence that parents have on their children’s occupational representations; I find that gender-role attitudes are transmitted from parents to children, as are representations of prestige and expectations as to status. Gottfredson’s theory of circumscription and compromise states that teenagers select their aspired occupation as the outcome of a process of circumscription of acceptable alternatives in terms of sex-type, prestige and difficulty. I assess this theory empirically, finding that prestige is not an appropriate dimension according to which to measure feminine occupations and that difficulty of an occupation is not seen as discouraging, thus demonstrating this theory to be unreliable in explaining occupational aspirations.

Guarin Andrés - Transition in to adulthood of children immigrants in Switzerland: Analysis of familial and professional orientations of Turkish and Albanian youth.”

PdD Supervisors : Laura Bernardi, Guy Elcheroth 

Conducted as part of the project IP2 of the NPR-LIVES, this thesis focuses on the initial familial and professional orientations of children of migrants in comparison to young Swiss from families with similar socio-economic backgrounds. We are particularly interested in the resource mobilization process that Turkish and Albanian youth experience during the transition to adulthood in these tow orientations. The primary concern of this research is to identify the mechanisms by which young adults’ social networks influence the direction of their paths in life.

In order to do that, first, we use data taken from the (ESPA) in order to identify the familial and professional trajectories of youth. Second, we take advantage of the pilot survey of the latest wave of PSM (III), which uses network sampling, and allows us to examine the links between networks and youth familial and professional life trajectories of migrants.


Guidici Francesco - Becoming parent: inter-individual divergences and convergences in a transition of the life course

PhD Supervisors: Dominique Joye & Eric Widmer

The birth of the first child is a normative event creating important changes in the life course of men and women. This research analyzes the transition to parenthood as a moment creating social stratification. Changes within three dependent dimensions are studied: the occupational career, domestic labour and couples’ relationship quality. The concepts of inter-individual divergences and convergence, derived from the cumulative dis/advantage hypothesis and the alternative hypothesis of compensatory effects, are used to operationalize the change in these three dimensions after the birth of the first child.

Klaas Hannah - Recovery processes after an episode of mental illness

PhD Supervisor : Dario Spini


My thesis is situated within the field of mental health research. I investigate recovery processes after the onset of an episode of mental illness. I am interested in variables that impact recovery positively in the short term and in the long term. Regarding the personal level, I am analysing identity processes and control strategies underlying recuperation at different time points. I am further interested in the associations of these variables with depressive symptoms. Concerning the contextual level, I am looking at regional variations in Switzerland regarding indicators for varying degrees of stigmatisation of people suffering from a mental illness. For my analyses I use different longitudinal prospective databases such as the “Swiss Household Panel” (SHP) and the “Traitement et Intervention Précoces dans les troubles Psychotiques” (TIPP), as well as own collected retrospective mixed-methods data.

Korber Maïlys - What are the long-term benefits of vocational training?

PdD Supervisor : Daniel Oesch

The Swiss education system emphasizes the dual vocational training. Many consider it as efficient, in particular with respect to the integration of the young workforce. If entry into the labor market is indeed facilitated by the vocational education training, it is crucial to explore its long-term benefits. In a world subject to technological change as ours, does acquiring specific professional skills enable workers to meet the needs of the labor market and to take advantage of the education throughout one’s career?

To answer this question, I analyze longitudinal data to observe individuals’ careers throughout their professional trajectories. I compare the higher secondary vocational education training with general education to shed light on the different career paths made possible by these two kinds of education. One hypothesis is that skills acquired during general education training are more easily transferable and less quickly obsolete.

I compare Switzerland with Germany – a country with an education system similar to Switzerland – and with the United Kingdom – a country with an education system that emphasizes vocational education training to a much lower extent than Switzerland – to observe if similar effects occur in these three contexts.  

Larenza Ornella - Family form versus family substance. An empirical study on the role of policies in lone parents’ life course in French- speaking Switzerland.

PdD Supervisor : Laura Bernardi

My thesis aims at unveiling the role of the policy context in LPs’ wellbeing in two steps, combining a macro-institutional perspective with a micro-individual perspective. In the first part, I will focus on LPs’ poverty – by far the most common among all outcomes and highly connected with other negative outcomes - and conduct a meta-analysis of the existing literature on the relationship between family policy variations and LPs’ poverty across developed welfare states, to critically summarize the existing knowledge on this relationship. In the second empirical part I will focus on Switzerland. Initially I will analyse how social policies at federal level, in Vaud and Geneva portray parenting. Subsequently I will conduct a longitudinal qualitative case study on a sample of about 40 LPs, paying attention to the way in which they “do family” and face moral dilemmas over their life course in Vaud and Geneva. Finally I will link evidence from the policy analysis and the in-depth study to uncover the associations between LPs’ circumstances and agency and the policy construction of parenting in French-speaking Switzerland


Madero Cabib Ignacio - Structural Determinants of the Transition to Retirement in Switzerland: a Life Course Study

PhD Supervisors : Jacques-Antoine Gauthier & Jean-Marie Le Goff

A substantial body of life course research has considered occupational trajectories in Switzerland, focusing either on early or middle adulthood careers. However, the issue of the transition to retirement is receiving increasing attention for several reasons: the emergence of declining birth rates associated with an aging population, a high proportion of active old workers, and continuous changes in the timing and variability of retirements in Switzerland. Moving forward on this topic, the present sociological thesis aims to offer new insights on the dynamics of the transition to retirement in Switzerland (centered on ages between 50 and 70 years), through a life course schema. I concentrate on three life course notions in order to study the transition to retirement: the homogenization, the heterogeneity, and the social vulnerability confronted during such life transition. I use data mainly from the Survey of Health, Aging and Retirement in Europe (SHARE). The data will be investigated through the two most important tools of quantitative analysis within life course approach, namely optimal matching analysis and event history analysis.

McDonald Patrick - Family decisions and employment: The impact of marriage and children on labour market participation

PhD Supervisor : Daniel Oesch

The unequal position of men and women on the labour market is a large contributor to economic, social, and intergenerational inequality. Although the position of women on the labour market has been improving in the last decades, they are still at a disadvantage when compared to men. The situation is especially compounded for mothers, where a significant motherhood wage penalty persists. Though much of this gap can be attributed to part-time work and career interruption, a large proportion remains unexplained. This unexplained difference could be due to employers’ discrimination. My thesis studies the decision-making behaviour of employers regarding an applicant’s family situation. Are men more likely to be hired than women, especially mothers? Are mothers offered lower wages, while fathers command higher? Does workforce inequality therefore have its origins at recruitment? To answer these questions, I propose to use Factorial Survey Analysis (FSA), an analytical technique that asks respondents to rate tailor-made profiles, or vignettes, that facilitate the statistical analysis of the dimensions of interest. I base my empirical research on the JOBVUL project, a Factorial Survey targeting the 5000 members of a human resources professional organisation in Switzerland


Meigniez Maëlle - Institutional aid forms: plural action of an association

PhD Supervisor : René Knüsel

My PHD dissertation aims at exploring and understanding the public action of aid associations. I would like to think about forms of institutional aid, focusing on different kinds of allowances and publics. In other words, I am interested in the way actors answer to the questions : Whom to help ? Who must help and how ? What is the place of institution in this system ? Thereby, the political dimension is in the heart of my questioning, which is about the responsibility (individual and collective) attributed to helped people, to helpers and to institution. My approach is an ethnographic inquiry in an association of the Canton de Vaud and aims at describing and explaining interactions (in co-presence and at a distance) and actors experiences. My research is an opportunity to rethink two tensions which are transversal in social policies. On the one hand, I want to combine an analysis of proximity aid relations with an analysis of the public action of an institution. Indeed, I propose to move across the institution, from the bottom (the interactions with helped people) to the top (highly visible activities). On the other hand, I aim at overcoming the opposition between public aid and private aid by analyzing an association who works with public and private actors and participate to the constitution of public problems.

Mesnard Pauline - Comparative patterns of long-term care in old age in Western Europe

PhD Supervisor : Dominique Joye

My research aims at providing a sociological insight into the way European societies deal with the issues of demographic ageing and long-term care. How do societies provide services to support and structure elderly care in Western Europe and what are the meanings people in long-term care give to their situations? Several factors such as national solidarity regimes, familial cultures and social representations of ages could explain why the way people experience old age in Europe is plural. Using a comprehensive approach, the project focuses on the day-to-day experiences of older people in long-term care across several European countries. It questions the norms of reciprocity in different care regimes and precisely the notions of autonomy and dependency and their implications on the daily life of elderly people. Specific attention is paid to Welfare States and ageing policies as the main framework to structure these experiences and to the subjective meanings people attribute to it. The survey is divided into two types of materials; a quantitative one with SHARE (the Survey of Health, Ageing and Retirement in Europe) and a qualitative one including interviews with older people living in different countries. My thesis aims at proposing a typology of long-term care experiences in old age across Western Europe.


Murphy Emily - Labour Market Turbulence, Occupational Mobility and Workers’ Skill Development over the Life course

PdD Supervisor : Daniel Oesch

This thesis is set within IP4 of PRN-LIVES, and examines the relationship between micro-level occupational mobility, educational paths and aggregate patterns of change in the labour market of OECD economies over the last two decades.  Our empirical analyses determine the extent to which intra-generational mobility and skill acquisition dynamics have contributed to these observed changes. Drawing on panel data from three countries: Germany, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom, we distinguish between workers in declining, stable and growing occupations with the aim of understanding how individuals in declining occupations fare in each of the labour markets.  Does being in a declining occupation necessarily place workers in a vulnerable position or are they able to access jobs in growing occupations? The study identifies the skills and individual characteristics that enable workers’ smooth transitions out of declining occupations towards new jobs within expanding employment sectors. A further line of inquiry looks at whether national training systems adapt to altered employment opportunities and foster individuals’ formation of new types of skills that successful switches to growing occupations require or that promote upward mobility paths.

Penic Sandra - Individual and collective experiences in shaping political attitudes of young adults in former Yugoslavia

PhD supervisor : Dario Spini

The main goal of this research is to examine the impact of individual and collective experiences of war victimization and economic exclusion on political attitudes and social identities of young adults in post-war former Yugoslavia. We apply a mixed-method research design, by combining series of quantitative (most notably spatial multilevel analyses) and qualitative analyses (discourse analyses of elites’ speeches and media content). This approach allows us to detangle the impact of personal victimization and collective exposure to war events and poverty, but also to examine how certain interpretations of these events become collectively shared, and how these shared interpretations of social experiences are then shaping individual opinions. In that way, by combining several levels of analyses – individual experiences, collective events and their interpretations within influential public discourse – we aim to get a more complete understanding of dramatic changes in attitudes and identities of people in post-war countries of former Yugoslavia.

Roch Pierre-Alain - Precarious occupational integration and social disaffiliation process: The cases of Switzerland and Portugal

PhD Supervisors: Dominique Joye, Karin Wall

Labor relations have undergone significant changes over the last decades. Job precariousness and work precariousness weaken “assured” and “stable” occupational integrations. These changes challenge “rigid”, continuous and foreseeable conception of occupational career (the choice of a profession, training, labor market integration, promotion and retirement), and question both material and symbolic recognition that are linked to professional activities. Facing this “rise of uncertainties”, we analyse the impact of precarious occupational integration on social ties, and how particular groups of people are unequally exposed to the “disaffiliation” risk. In order to answer these questions, we draws on data from the FNS study « Family TiMes » and data from a same design research conducted in Portugal. Moreover, analysing occupational integration and social ties of two cohorts (1950-1955, 1970-1975) in two different countries allow us to develop a framework taking into account the specific context studied.

Rossignon Florence - Transition to adulthood among the second-generation of immigrants in Switzerland

PdD Supervisors : Jean-Marie Le Goff, Jacques-Antoine Gauthier

My thesis aims at studying the integration into the labour market of the second-generation of immigrants living in Switzerland. A great number of studies have demonstrated that the level of education and the occupational status of migrants seem to improve from generation to generation. Notwithstanding, it is of common knowledge that the young from the most recent waves of migration are often disadvantaged compared to those who are originating from the older ones. Indeed, from the 1980s, many migrants coming from Turkey and former Yugoslavia arrived in Switzerland with a precarious status. This latter, which impeded their professional integration, seems to have been transmitted to their children. Our empirical research will be based on the study Cohort LIVES. Its sample will be composed of 1800 people, Swiss and foreigners, aged 15-24 and who have been schooled in Switzerland. Also, we will resort to two methods of analysis. On the one hand, the sequential analysis will allow us to show how the educational and occupational trajectories of individuals may differ according to various sociodemographic factors, such as ethnicity, gender etc. In the second place, the event history analysis, which measures the probability that an event occurs after a certain period of time, will show in which ways structural patterns can influence the occurrence of critical events, such as leaving from the parental home. 

Rouzinov Serguei - Missing data: tests and causality in longitudinal contexts.

PhD Supervisor : André Berchtold

My PhD thesis is in the field of statistics. More specifically, it covers the statistical problem of unobserved observations. I will develop statistical methods for handling unobserved information, be able to determine the mechanisms explaining missing data, and to impute missing data in a longitudinal context with strict respect for the possible causality relationships between successive waves of a survey.  These new tools will be applied to simulated data and to several LIVES datasets. Missing data can have different mechanisms: missing completely at random (MCAR), missing at random (MAR), and missing not at random (MNAR). These different mechanisms define the technique to use for analysing datasets with missing data. The first objective of my thesis is the development of a new test applicable to all data types and able to distinguish between the three cases of missing data. The second objective is to describe missing data as a mixture of generating mechanisms, to define a typology of these mechanisms, and finally to investigate the capacity of tests to also work with such data. The third goal of my thesis is then to develop an imputation method specific to longitudinal data with strict respect for causality principles. Methodologically, my thesis will combine theoretical developments, simulated numerical experiments and applications to several real longitudinal datasets collected within LIVES.


Sanchez Tome Rosa - The Impact of survey error on the study of vulnerability

PdD Supervisor : Dominique Joye

The past decades have seen a growing interest in subjective measures of vulnerability and wellbeing, corresponding with an increase in the quantity, quality and availability of life quality data. However, traditional survey modes of data collection such as telephone surveys fail to obtain satisfactory data in terms of quality and cost. In Switzerland, new survey designs are used in order to overcome low response rates, nonresponse bias due to the underrepresentation of potentially vulnerable groups and measurement problems. My objective is to study the effect that survey design has on the accuracy of the information obtained through surveys on vulnerability and wellbeing. Specifically, I focus on the mode of data collection, a crucial element of survey design that is known to affect both response propensity and respondents’ answers, making it difficult to compare estimates that have been obtained through different modes. My analysis is based in on a mixed mode experiment and complemented with other datasets that are related to vulnerability and/or wellbeing measurement, such as the European Social Survey.

Valarino Isabel - Does the emergence of parental leave policies in Switzerland challenge gendered representations of parental roles?

PhD Supervisor : Laura Bernardi

Abstract : Switzerland is one of the only European countries which has not implemented parental leave policies (parental or paternity leave). However, it seems that in the last decade, the issue has been increasingly problematized in the public space. This thesis has two objectives. First, describe the emergence of parental leave policies in Switzerland in the last decade. Second, analyse the representations of gender relations, in particular of maternity and paternity through this emergence. Does the increased problematization of parental leave policies in Switzerland challenge gendered representations of parental roles? In order to answer this question, I analyse the media, political and economy spheres. Firstly, press articles on parental leave policies are analysed. Secondly, parliamentary propositions in favour of parental leave policies and their political treatment are investigated. Finally, practices and discourses with regard to discretionary parental leave policies implemented at the level of companies are analysed.  The data is analysed following principles of discourse analysis.

Von Ow Anna - The role of social contacts in finding a way out of unemployment

PhD Supervisor : Daniel Oesch

This PhD thesis is part of a research project, which explores the role of networks as a job search strategy for the unemployed. Thirty to seventy percent of jobs are found by means of social contacts, which clearly highlights their importance as a job search strategy. Furthermore, potential employers might interpret unemployment duration as a negative signal for productivity and effort in looking for a job. Therefore, it is crucial, especially for the unemployed, to be as well informed as possible about different search strategies and their effectiveness.

Our study is based on a large-scale survey carried out among 4'500 unemployed job seekers in the canton of Vaud. The survey data have been collected using two questionnaires – one at the beginning and one at the end of unemployment. These data are also combined with administrative data stemming from the unemployment insurance register.

Using this comprehensive data set, we investigate the interplay between job seekers' and social contacts' characteristics and its effect on the likelihood of finding a job, on how long this takes and on the type of job. We also explore whether job seekers succeed in mobilizing their social contacts in order to get help finding a job. This allows us to contribute new empirical findings to the literature on the procedural character of job search by means of social contacts, which so far has mainly been investigated theoretically.