FORS Lunch seminars

The FORS lunch seminars are held to foster scholarly exchange between FORS researchers and related researchers to profit from their diverse scientific and cultural backgrounds. Occasionnally researchers from outside of FORS are invited to present their research findings. The FORS Lunch seminars are open to the public and are currently, all meetings are held online. They take place regularly on Tuesdays at 12:45 and are advertised beforehand on the FORS homepage.

The FORS Lunch Seminars are organised by FORS collaborateur Dr. Marieke Heers.

The next Lunch seminar will take place on March 8, 2022 between 12:45 and 13:45.

Marieke Voorpostel will present findings from the Wellways-project:

WELLWAYS: Evénements et transitions critiques dans le domaince de la famille et de l’emploi et le bienêtre dans ses multiples dimensions.

More information on the project:

The Lunch seminar will take place online on zoom.

Passcode: 4582849563

We look forward to welcoming you to the seminar.

Presentations 2021

Can Policy Directly reduce the Gender Wage Gap? (Giannina Vaccaro (FORS and UNIL) November 2, 2021


Despite governments’ efforts to reduce discrimination, gender wage discrimination persists in most countries. This seminar will discuss the effectiveness of two main Pay Transparency Laws and a new research idea to test the impact of labor market discrimination within firms. This research project not only aims to answer whether the wage gaps (explained and unexplained) have been reduced after the introduction of these policies, but also how employers comply with these regulations and their (un)desirable effects.

Persistent class gaps in perceptions of political voice: Liberal democracies 1974-2016, (Line Rennwald, FORS), July 6, 2021

Persistent class gaps in perceptions of political voice: Liberal democracies 1974-2016 (joint work with Jonas Pontusson, University of Geneva)

This paper explores the role of social class on individuals’ perceptions of being politically represented. Drawing on ISSP surveys in 19 liberal democracies between 1996 and 2016 and data from a cross-national survey from the mid-1970s, we analyse answers to a survey question on respondents’ agreement with the statement ‘people like me don’t have any say about what the government does.’ We show a clear class hierarchy in perceptions of being politically represented, with routine workers feeling poorly represented and middle-class professionals feeling well represented. The results indicate that social class trumps income as a determinant of perceptions of representation. We also show that class gaps have been remarkably stable over time. Finally, our analysis reveals that the effects of union membership have changed. In the 1970s, unionized workers perceived themselves as having more political influence than their non-union counterparts, but this is no longer the case today.




Methodological considerations and outcomes of routinely collecting highly sensitive health data from a hospital register by Boris Wernli (FORS), Henk Verloo & Filipa Pereira (both HES-SO Valais-Wallis) June 1, 2021


Background: Patient registries can be powerful tools for observing diseases, treatment and outcome variations, examining prognoses, describing patterns of care, estimating the appropriateness of care delivery, assessing effectiveness, monitoring safety and harm, and measuring aspects of care quality.

Aim: To describe profiles and analyse risks—made up of medication, clinical, medical and environment-related factors—that increase older adults’ chances of hospitalisation, ED visits, hospital readmission, institutionalisation or early death.

Method: We synthesised a large longitudinal dataset extracted from a Swiss regional hospital’s register (2015–2018), including older inpatients’ administrative, clinical and medical data. Various clustering methods were used to identify profiles across the different dimensions of inpatients’ conditions (psychological, somatic, diagnostic, medication). Multilevel logistic regressions were calculated to assess associations between identified clusters and risks of hospitalisation, hospital readmission, institutionalisation or early death.

Results: The four-year dataset incorporated 140 variables from 20,422 polymedicated inpatients aged 65 or older, admitted directly from their homes. The overall 30-day hospital readmission rate was 7.8%. Multilevel logistic regression analyses revealed multiple health and drug determinants of hospital readmission. The mean prevalence of unplanned institutionalisation after hospital discharge was 6.1%. Predictive analyses revealed sociodemographic factors and functional dependency to be strong determinants of unplanned institutionalisation.

Conclusions: Hospital registers are raw data. Customisation is complex and requires multiple interventions and techniques. Routinely collected health data can substantially increase knowledge about hospital health patterns and adverse drug effects. Accessing existing highly sensitive data is complex and discourages researchers from exploring large datasets.

The world of research infrastructures in Switzerland and the EU (Georg Lutz, FORS) May 4, 2021

The world of research infrastructures in Switzerland and the EU

Research infrastructures (RI) become more and more important in many domains. Research becomes in general more collaborative, cross-national and also requires large and/or long-term financial investments. However, RIs cannot be selected, monitored and steered with the established bottom-up project funding instruments that many funding agencies have in place. They require a more long-term and top-down selection and steering and adapted funding and evaluation mechanisms. Because RI are often long-term endeavors, usually ministries also play a role in prioritizing and funding RIs in collaboration with research funding agencies. At the European level but also within many countries so called infrastructure roadmap processes have been established and specific funding lines and instruments for infrastructures exist. This presentation will showcase how this roadmap and funding is done at the EU level (through ESFRI and through specific Horizon 2020 and Horizon Europe funding instruments) and within Switzerland (through a national roadmap process) and then also how this is all relevant for FORS current and future activities.

The slides of the presentation

Social Differences in Trajectories of Quality of Life, Activities of Daily Living, and Social Participation after Diagnosis of a Chronic Condition (Marc Höglinger, ZHAW) April 6, 2021

Social Differences in Trajectories of Quality of Life, Activities of Daily Living, and Social Participation after Diagnosis of a Chronic Condition

Abstract: About two-thirds of the population of Switzerland aged 55 or over suffers from at least one chronic health condition such as cardiovascular disease, COPD, or diabetes. Prevalence rates in other European countries reach similar levels. Factors such as the socio-economic background, education, or social integration, the so-called “social determinants of health,” have been shown to influence the risk of suffering from a chronic condition substantially.

However, social factors not only affect the risk of developing a chronic condition; they also influence how patients cope with their affliction, how much formal and informal support they receive, and determine – at least to some degree – patients’ access to appropriate healthcare. Consequently, the actual effect of a chronic condition for individual patients on their daily lives is likely to differ between social groups.

Using data from the Survey of Health, Ageing, and Retirement in Europe (SHARE) we analyze trajectories of quality of life, activities for daily living, and social participation following a diagnosis of a chronic condition. This way, the consequences of chronic conditions on these measures are identified. Differences between various social groups such as high vs. low socio-economic status, migration background or not, or living alone or with a partner will be compared for a selection of European countries.

The slides of the presentation

Overview on the findings from the SHP Covid-19 study (Jan-Erik Refle, FORS) March 2, 2021

Overview on the findings from the SHP Covid-19 study 

Abstract: To get more insight into how people were affected by and fared during the first wave of the Covid-19 pandemic, the Swiss Household Panel launched an additional Covid-19 Survey among participating households. It was fielded between May and June 2020, right after the strictest regulations ended, but numerous restrictions were still in place. This talk gives an overview on the main findings of this study with respect to a wide variety of domains: the occurrence of Covid-19 infections in people’s networks, changes with respect to work, finances, time use, family life, following education from home, health and wellbeing, worries, social networks and social cohesion, and the evaluation of the political measures taken by the federal government.

Slides of the presentation

Data Protection Laws and Scientific Research (Pablo Diaz, FORS/UNIL) February 9, 2021

Data Protection Laws and Scientific Research 

Abstract: The advent of the digital revolution has put the processing of personal data at the heart of public debate. While the increase in the volume of data available represents for some a real opportunity for progress, for others it constitutes a major threat to our fundamental rights. The principle of informational self-determination, guaranteed by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights to (art. 12), the European Convention on Human Rights (art. 8) and the Federal Constitution (art. 13 al.2), is jeopardized by often abusive uses of our personal data. In reaction to this, many governments have decided to strengthen their data protection mechanisms. The implementation in 2016 of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) or the current revision of the Federal Act on Data Protection (FADP) are good examples of this. However, if these various legal instruments seem to be mainly aimed at private companies (such as Google, Facebook, Apple, etc.), they logically impact all sectors whose core business relies on the processing of personal data, including scientific research – particularly in the social sciences. This lunch seminar aims to clarify the legal bases that govern the processing of personal data in the context of research projects conducted by public bodies. It will not cover research carried out by private individuals or research subject to the Human Research Act (HRA). More specifically, it will present the general legal bases for the processing of personal and sensitive data as well as the main specific rights and obligations regarding information, consent, storage and communication in the context of research.