Research team

Centre for Population, Family and Health

Expertise

Jonas Wood studies family and labour market transitions in Belgium and Europe. Particular attention is paid to varying patterns by population subgroups such as educational groups or different migration backgrounds. In addition, context-contingencies such as effects of economic cycles and social policies are assessed.

Using dynamic microsimulation as an integrated modelling framework to assess the impact of individual-level and contextual factors on past and future fertility trends. 01/01/2021 - 31/12/2024

Abstract

Low fertility levels in European countries since the 1970s have been a major force contributing to population ageing. Several individual-level and contextual factors have been proposed to explain changing patterns of fertility, with increasing education and labour force participation, variation in economic cycles and lack of supportive policies in many countries figuring prominently. With the increase of migration since the late 1990s, the potential impact of migrant populations on aggregate fertility trends has recently received increasing attention. While there has been no shortage of candidate causal factors, no integrated modelling framework has hitherto been developed to investigate the interplay between these factors and to assess the actual contribution of various factors to change in aggregate fertility trends. This project aims to improve our understanding of how educational careers and migration background shape fertility, and how these characteristics interact with each other, but also with varying economic and policy contexts. The project integrates models of entry into parenthood and subsequent family formation into a dynamic microsimulation framework that allows to assess the sensitivity of aggregate fertility trends to variation in economic and policy contexts, while acknowledging the constraining effect of population structures that have been shaped by past demographic trends.

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Do Work-Family Reconciliation Policies 'Work' for Native Groups with a Migration Background? Costs, opportunities, Policy design & Experiences (COPE) in a Mixed Methods Approach. 01/11/2020 - 31/10/2023

Abstract

Unprecedented increases in female employment and declining fertility levels have undoubtedly been the most important household transformations in post-war Europe. In response to these changes, European governments developed policies geared towards the reconciliation of (female) employment and family formation such as formal childcare and parental leave. Higher fertility and a relatively weak tension between work and family in countries like Belgium and Sweden suggest that these policies are effective. However, in the context of increasingly diverse European populations, particularly in forerunner countries, a new question has come to the fore: Do these policies 'work' for migrants' descendants? In the face of this new question, the COPE-project provides two major contributions. First, migrants' descendants' uptake and effects of work-family policies, depending on the design features of such policies in Belgium and Sweden are addressed using the richest register data available. Second, adopting a mixed methods research design for the Belgian case, the COPE-project benefits from the complementarity of quantitative and qualitative methods to study both differential patterns in uptake and effects by natives' origin, but also develop indepth understanding of how mechanisms of uptake and effects vary by origin. Our findings will be of utmost importance to policy-makers in the context of inclusive social policies, but also labour supply in the era of population ageing.

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Labour Migration and Population Ageing: anlyzing the effectiveness of current labour market integration and job councelling trajectories for newly arrived immigrants and individuals with a migration background in Flanders. 01/10/2018 - 30/09/2022

Abstract

Between 2015 and 2030 welfare states throughout Europe (including Belgium) will face the long-term implications of the babyboom and subsequent babybust in the latter part of the 20th century: the large cohorts of the 1950s and 1960s will gradually enter retirement, while the small cohorts born since the mid 1970s are not sufficiently large to offset the shrinking labour force. The 2001 report of the United Nations on replacement migration estimated that a significant increase of migration (compared to levels of the mid 1990s) would be required to maintain the size of the working age population in Europe. In contrast to expectations and despite wide scepticism regarding to the UN migration prospects, immigration has substantially increased throughout Europe since the early 2000s, exceeding the migration volumes of the 1950s and 1960s by a considerable margin. However, throughout Europe the employment levels of migrant populations are significantly lower than is the case among natives, fuelling scepticism in the public debate with respect to replacement migration. Although the overrepresentation of second and later generation migrants in unemployment has been documented repeatedly, as well as the overrepresentation of first generation migrants in social assistance, only a limited body of work has hitherto been able to access existing register data to address the uptake and impact of active labour market programmes (ALMP's) and (labour force) integration policies on labour market outcomes for first and second generation migrants. This project uses a novel data infrastructure that was developed in a preceding VIONA-project (Flemish Government) which aimed to link longitudinal register data from integration offices, employment offices and social security organisations in order to reconstruct and analyse labour market trajectories of both the resident population with a migration background (second and later generation migrants) and new migrants entering the country in the period 2005-2016 (first generation migrants), including asylum seekers. Given this highly innovative research infrastructure – in tandem with the fact that different migration profiles can be considered - this project will contribute to the scarce literature on the effectiveness of different integration and employment policies to labour market integration of individuals with a migration background, while additionally shedding light on the variation in the effectiveness of such policies for different migrant groups as the barriers that second and later generation migrants, first generation migrants (e.g. family formation and reunification) and asylum seekers face in entering the labour market are different. The project aims to continue the collaboration with the various regional stakeholders involved in the construction of the data-infrastructure and envisages the valorisation of the research findings in collaboration with local and regional actors in the field of labour market and integration policies.

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Follow-up Research Living Together in Diversity 01/03/2019 - 31/08/2019

Abstract

"Superdiversity" stands central in Flanders. This high degree of diversity implies that the number of people with a migration background is steadily increasing, but also increasingly heterogeneous. In order to be able to tailor policy to this superdiversity, it is essential to observe and analyse the position of groups with a migration background in different domains. To gain insight into domains that cannot be investigated on the basis of variables available in administrative databases, the Flemish Government launched the "Samenleven in Diversiteit" (SID) survey in 2017 (Stuyck et al., 2018). This survey focuses in particular on people with a Moroccan, Turkish, Polish, Romanian and Congolese background, groups that are typically underrepresented in other surveys. This research deals with diversity and integration as transversal concepts that relate to a wide range of themes and policy domains. In this follow-up study we focus on diversity and integration in individual behaviours, attitudes and experiences. We distinguish seven societal domains: (1) education and educational experiences of children, (2) labour market positions, (3) language skills and language use, (4) civic integration courses, (5) diversity and social contacts, (6) social participation and (7) attitudes towards diversity and the position of religion in society. We aim to address four broad research goals: 1. Operationalization of the concept migration background in the SID sample; 2. Documenting variation in the seven societal domains by migration background; 3. To study the extent to which variation in the seven societal domains by migration background can be explained by socio-demographic background characteristics, socio-economic characteristics or socio-cultural profiles; 4. To map the mutual dynamics between the societal domains, with special attention to spill-over effects for groups with a migrant background.

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The Development of a Register-Based Socio-Demographic Panel to Study Work-Family Behaviour. 01/04/2018 - 31/03/2019

Abstract

The development of a professional career and formation of a family are two common life-goals. As a result, the recursive relation between paid work and family formation is a long-standing research topic in the social sciences, particularly in today's era of dual earner households and state-provided work-family policies. Available research has shown that work and family life have become more compatible as employment-effects on family formation are becoming more positive and the negative effect of parenthood on employment is weakening. The fact that in particular North-western European countries with extensive work-family policies exhibit these changes in the work-family nexus, suggests that these policies have played an important role. However, besides this general narrative of increasing combinability of work and family in countries like Belgium, available literature does not allow one to conclude on whether work-family combination has become easier for everyone in our society. This is noteworthy as differences between genders, educational groups, or migrant origins are likely to enhance our understanding of work-family behaviour in relation to public policy. Additionally, policy-makers cannot be satisfied with general trends in work-family behaviours and policy uptake as social inclusion stands central in the development of social policy. Literature reviews indicate that these gaps in our knowledge are often related to limited data availability. First, routinely used cross-sectional data do not allow to follow individuals over time and assess how employment affects family formation and vice versa. Second, a lack of couple data hampers the study of couple-decisions and gender dynamics in the organization of work and family. Third, surveys do not include information on the uptake of work-family policies, which is essential to the measurement of policy effects. Fourth, limited sample sizes have hampered the study of differential work-family behaviour by population subgroups such as educational of ethnic groups. Finally, although cross-national comparisons are potentially very informative on the impact of societal and institutional context, available comparisons remain very descriptive due to the aforementioned limitations. As a result of the limitations of available data sources in the study of work-family behaviour, this project aims to enhance our knowledge by developing a Socio-demographic panel based on data from the Crossroads Bank for Social Security and the National Register. This data source allows a (i) longitudinal (ii) couple-level assessment of (iii) uptake and effects of work-family policies (formal childcare, parental leave, service vouchers) (iv) for detailed population subgroups. In addition, (v) close cooperation with our partner institutes in other North-western European countries with access to detailed register data will allow to compare work-family dynamics between countries.

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