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WELLWAYS: Critical events and transitions in family and work and multidimensional wellbeing

English title WELLWAYS: Critical events and transitions in family and work and multidimensional wellbeing
Applicant Bernardi Laura
Number 182301
Funding scheme Project funding (Div. I-III)
Research institution Life course and Social Inequality Research Center (LINES) Université de Lausanne
Institution of higher education University of Lausanne - LA
Main discipline Sociology
Start/End 01.02.2019 - 30.06.2021
Approved amount 464'558.00
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Keywords (6)

interdependence; well-being; panel data; social inequalities; critical events; life course

Lay Summary (French)

Lead
La santé et le bien être ne sont pas également distribués dans la société. Notre projet étudie comment les événements et les transitions dans les sphères de la famille et de l'emploi, qui influencent de manière importante la santé et le bien être, contribuent à cette inégalité. Nous étudions les parcours de vie des individus pour comprendre si les événements familiaux et liés au travail agissent de manière conjointe dans l'augmentation des disparités de bienêtre en Suisse et en France.
Lay summary

L’objectif principal du projet est d’expliquer comment des individus sont plus souvent à risques que d’autres de cumuler des désavantages le long de leur parcours de vie aboutissant à un moindre bien-être et à une santé diminuée. Nous utilisons les données de plusieurs grandes enquêtes réalisées en Suisse et en France dans lesquelles les personnes enquêtées ont été interrogées sur le développement leur parcours dans les domaines du travail et de la famille aussi que ainsi des informations sur de leur niveau de bien-être pendant plus de deux décennies.  En examinant conjointement ce qui se passe dans les domaines du travail et de la famille, nous souhaitons appréhender comment les désavantages dans chacun des deux domaines sont liés entre eux. Nous supposons que les individus et les familles avec peu de ressources font face à plus de difficultés provenant de leur passé et font face à plusieurs risques d’expérimenter des évènements négatifs dans chacun de ces deux domaines de vie.

Adoptant une perspective de recherche sur les parcours de vie et en s’appuyant sur des techniques de modélisation statistique en vue d’analyse des données complexes d’enquête qui permettent de suivre les parcours professionnels et familiaux d’individus au cours du temps, ce projet va au-delà des recherches existantes. Ce projet permet d’avancer dans nos connaissances sur la montée des inégalités de santé et de bien-être en Suisse et en France, et il permettra de proposer des recommandations de politiques sociales visant à améliorer le bien-être des groupes vulnérables dans nos sociétés.

Direct link to Lay Summary Last update: 09.11.2018

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Abstract

The tremendous changes in both work and family domains have had major consequences for inequality in wellbeing in contemporary European societies, raising new and pressing challenges. Family trajectories have become more diverse as marriage rates decrease while at the same time divorce rates, births outside marriage, lone parenthood, and the prevalence of complex blended families increase. Major changes in the work domain include declining employment security, growing flexibility and uncertain social mobility as well as increasing blurred boundaries between work and private life, causing these two domains to be ever more intertwined. The increasingly diverse family and work trajectories and their growing interdependence produces a large range of life course configurations whose impact on wellbeing is largely unknown. While previous research clearly demonstrates the need of jointly assessing work and family influences on wellbeing, it offers little insights into the importance of the timing and concentration of critical events for different wellbeing outcomes across social groups. WELLWAYS investigates how professional and family trajectories jointly produce inequality, by taking a dynamic approach to the life course and a multidimensional approach to wellbeing. The overall project aims are to explain a) how some individuals are at risk of accumulating disadvantages over the life course, producing lower levels of wellbeing and a reduced capacity to recover from life hazards; b) what is the role of individual resources in moderating the production of social inequalities. WELLWAYS builds on life course scholarship (Elder, 1995), which highlights the need to consider life courses as made of multiple and interdependent trajectories, and on the stress process scholarship (Pearlin 1989, Thoits 2010), which theorize the negative effects of experiencing multiple hardships (stress proliferation). WELLWAYS will study the spillover effects of critical events and transitions (e.g. parenthood, union dissolution, re-partnering, job loss, involuntary career breaks). Their concentrated experience in multiple domains may create vulnerability and poor wellbeing outcomes, decreasing resilience, and ultimately affecting wellbeing. We hypothesize that the effect of critical life events on wellbeing varies by the relative timing and concentration of events, and by the fact of experiencing such events not in one but in multiple domains. We will study the effects of joint family and work trajectories on the dynamics of multidimensional wellbeing, including objective and subjective indicators of wellbeing, namely a) physical and mental health and b) material, social and subjective wellbeing. Finally, we will consider individual resources as important moderators of the relationship between critical events and wellbeing since resources can be generated or drained from one life domain to another one and subsequently influence wellbeing outcomes. Since time is crucial when modelling the effects of critical events on wellbeing, we take advantage of three population panels - the Swiss Household Panel (SHP Waves 1999-2017), the French health panel Constances (waves 2013-2017) and the French Health and Professional Trajectories (SIP 2006, 2010) to link life course trajectories to wellbeing outcomes over time. All panels include detailed and comparable information on family and employment biographies and repeated measures of health and wellbeing over time, as well as a wide array of standard socio-demographic indicators. These data are used together since they have complementary strengths. The large sample of the Constances panel allows assessing yearly changes in wellbeing after one or more events for a variety of subpopulations. At the same time, exploiting the long life of the SHP, we can study in parallel life course trajectories and yearly wellbeing dynamics for up to 18 years. Finally, the SIP brings detailed work and family trajectories in relation to health outcomes in France. With each dataset, we can account for gender specific outcomes and for the mediating role of the country-specific social protection systems. WELLWAYS goes beyond existing research by: 1) assessing the interrelatedness between different life course domains and the implications for wellbeing outcomes, especially regarding the concentration of critical events in multiple life domains; 2) comparatively studying several dimensions of wellbeing; 3) examining wellbeing outcomes, changes as well as long-term dynamics.
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