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 collaborator Dr. Marieke Heers.

Save the date!

On November  15, Robert Reinecke and Sarah Vilpert from FORS/UNIL will give the following presentation: “The association between cognition and attitudes and behaviours towards EOL care planning”.

Presentations 2022

Against the threat of individualization? Risk and protective factors that affect informal helping in Western countries – (Marlou Ramaekers, University of Utrecht), September 6, 2022


Both inside and outside of academia, there have been concerns regarding individualization; people would become more focused on their own lives and would be less willing to engage in solidarity behaviors, such as volunteering time to help each other. My PhD project focuses on a specific solidarity behavior, namely informal helping. This refers to helping people that do not live in the same household (e.g., friends, relatives and neighbors) without the coordination of formal organizations (Einolf, Prouteau, Nezhina& Ibrayeva, 2016). The project specifically examines additional risk (divorce, COVID-19, inability to reciprocate help) and protective (socialization by parents and partner) factors against this presumed trend of individualization. In the presentation, I will zoom in two studies within my PhD project. The first concerns the impact of the first lockdown of the COVID-19 pandemic in the Netherlands. Based on panel data from before and after the first lockdown, we found that informal helping declined during the first lockdown but not for everyone to the same extent. The second study concerns the impact of reciprocity norms in informal helping, which we investigated with a factorial survey. Results show that people are more willing to help neighbors who are likely to reciprocate their help, have helped in the past or clearly need help. Finally, I will shortly discuss our plans for the paper I will work on during my time at FORS. This paper examines the impact that partners have on each other’s informal helping and which partner is the more influential in this respect.

The Effects of Female Education on Child Education: A Prospective Analysis – (Michael Grätz (LINES/UNIL), May 24, 2022

What are the intergenerational consequences of increasing education? This study estimates the effects of women’s education on their offspring using quasi-experimental evidence from six educational reforms that increased the length of compulsory schooling in Austria, the Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Italy, and the Netherlands. The empirical analysis uses data from the Survey of Health, Ageing and Retirement in Europe (SHARE) and instrumental variable estimation to estimate the effects of female education on fertility and on children’s education. This study provides the first analysis using quasi-experimental variation in education to estimate prospective models of intergenerational effects. These models start with a birth cohort and link information on their fertility and on their children’s outcomes to this cohort. By doing so, these models can account for the effect of female education on the probability that women have children when estimating the effect of female education. The findings show that the direct effect of female education on children’s educational attainment, i.e., the effect conditional on the birth of a child, is positive. In addition, higher female education increases fertility. Therefore, the probability that a woman has a child with a high educational attainment is increased when taking into account the effect of female education on fertility. I conclude that studies that estimate retrospective models of intergenerational effects using reforms in the length of compulsory schooling have underestimated the total effect of female education on child education by not taking into account the impact of female education on fertility.

Advance directives and stability of end-of-life preferences in Swiss older adults – (Carmen Borrat-Besson, FORS) 10 May, 2022


In the last few years, the promotion of advance care planning has become a public health priority in Switzerland. In this context, people are invited to reflect on their wishes concerning the end of life, talk about them to their relatives, and document them in order to optimize therapeutic choices in case they are not able anymore to make decisions for themselves following an accident, a stroke or a heart attack, for example.

However, advance care planning assumes that preferences for end-of-life care remain stable over time. Although the stability of these preferences has been explored in seriously or terminally ill patients, so far, few studies have focused on younger people who should now be involved in this planning process.

The purpose of our study is to close this gap by examining the stability of a wide range of end-of-life preferences in the general population and to identify characteristics that are related to their stability or change. Our analyses are based on data collected among Swiss SHARE participants who completed the two paper-and-pencil questionnaires on end-of-life preferences in waves 6 (2015) and 8 (2019-2020). In this presentation, we will examine whether people who completed advance directives had more stable end-of-life preferences than people who did not.

Parent-child relationships in diverse stepfamilies and outcomes for children – (Ece Arat, Utrecht University) April 3, 2022

There is an increase in the numbers of children raised in stepfamilies, together with a growing diversity observed in the structure of stepfamilies. These children often fare worse than children raised in non-divorced families on various outcomes. Weaker (step)parent-child relationships are considered to be an important reason for this discrepancy (e.g., Carlson, 2006). There has, however, been little attention to these parent-child dynamics among more recent and emerging stepfamily types. My PhD project examines (step)parent-children relationships and outcomes for children in diverse types of stepfamilies, including cohabiting and LAT stepfamilies, and those with joint physical custody. The data come from the recent survey “New Families in the Netherlands” (NFN). An overview of the previous findings of the project will be presented, as well as the current paper in progress.

SUBreplica – The new FORS service dedicated to replication (Emilie Morgan de Paula, FORS) March 31, 2022

Recently more and more academic journals are implementing open data policies, posing the question for researchers of where, when, and how to share data as well as other research-related materials. As journals and funders demand the sharing of data used in publications, the way social science research is conducted and disseminated is undergoing a progressive change and the available infrastructure is being adapted. A crucial element of this change is the transparency of research. Related to this, replicability and reproducibility are becoming increasingly important in the social sciences. This includes making research data, analysis code, and study materials freely available.

The first aim of this lunch seminar is to give an overview of the challenges of replication and its contribution to scientific transparency. This second is to present SUBreplica, FORS’ new online replication tool and service dedicated to the sharing of replication materials.

WELLWAYS: Critical events and transitions in family and work and multidimensional wellbeing – (Marieke Voorpostel, FORS) March 8, 2022

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


Increasing diversity in family and work trajectories and the growing interdependence between these two domains produces a large range of life course configurations whose impact on wellbeing is largely unknown. WELLWAYS, an SNSF-funded project (2019-2022) based on Swiss and French longitudinal data, investigated how professional and family trajectories jointly produce inequality in wellbeing outcomes, by taking a dynamic approach to the life course and a multidimensional approach to wellbeing. It pays particular attention to the relative timing and concentration of events, and to the fact of experiencing such events not in one but in multiple domains. As WELLWAYS is coming to an end, this presentation will give an overview of the project and a summary of its main findings and insights.

Presentations 2021

Learn Python with the IT team – An Introduction (Aurélie Debrot and Yassine Gafaiti, FORS), February 15, 2022
Python is a popular open source programming language, that can be used for different goals, such as web development, data science, artificial intelligence, and so on. Data scientists at FORS use it, as well as the IT team. Through this first talk, the IT team will provide a brief introduction on how to install Python, how to run scripts and how to use data science common libraries.
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

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
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

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

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