Doctoral Projects

What explains socio-economic inequalities in health behaviour? Childrens’ vaccinations

 

Doctoral student: Eva Lefevere
Funding: Flemish Research Fund (FWO Vlaanderen)
Promoter: Karel Van den Bosch
Term: 01/10/2008 – 30/09/2012

 

This doctoral project aims to explain socio-economic inequalities in health behaviour, more specifically in child vaccination behaviour of parents. Its research touches upon aspects of sociology, psychology, economics and policy sciences. Making use of empirical and experimental methodologies, various plausible mechanisms are systematically examined to explain the socio-economic gradient in vaccination behaviour. These mechanisms are situated at the individual as well as at a collective level. The relative importance of economic, social and psychological factors are being evaluated, as well as the role of social networks. Finally, the project also examines whether low vaccination rates for certain groups are due to poor quality or poor adequacy of the authorities in charge of vaccination.

 

 

Eastern European welfare regimes within Social Europe. A comparison of the architecture and social adequacy of the income protection of the elderly in three Eastern European countries

 

Doctoral student: Tim Goedemé
Funding: Flemish Research Foundation (FWO Vlaanderen)
Promoter: Bea Cantillon
Term: 1/10/2006 – 31/12/2010

In this doctorate, the architecture and social adequacy of the welfare regimes in the Eastern EU member states are compared. In order to do so, the project focuses on the evolution of the elderly's income situation. Using various quantitative techniques the effect of cross-temporary and cross-sectional differences in social policy on the intergenerational and intra-generational distribution of income is estimated. More specifically the importance of differences in income packages (public, private, occupational pensions, compensations in health-care and housing, income from work) for the adequacy of incomes are scrutinized. In doing so, the project contributes to a better understanding of the impact of social policy on social outcomes and to the literature on the evolution of welfare regimes.

 

 

The norm-shifting sensitive distributive justice theory : a non-welfarist approach to social recognition in distributive justice

 

Doctoral student: Stijn Rottiers
Funding: Flemish Research Foundation (FWO Vlaanderen)
Promoter: Bea Cantillon
Term: 1/10/2005 – 31/12/2010

 

In his doctoral thesis, Stijn Rottiers argues that economic redistribution should not only focus on supporting people who are in need for support. This focus on the bottom-end of society needs to be complemented with a focus on the higher end of society. While such an upward looking perspective is absent in most distributive justice theories, it is at the heart of what Stijn Rottiers calls the norm-shifting sensitive distributive justice theory. Actions and social processes that increase economic inequality affect every person’s economic position in society.

 

Existing justice theories, such as responsibility-sensitive egalitarianism, mainly focus on how and when society should provide the excluded with more life opportunities. In addition, Stijn Rottiers urges that policies should also guard against the shooting up of economic well-being norms. If not, economic inequality remains, or even increases, despite the well-intended efforts towards the excluded.
An increase of economic inequality affects the economic position of everyone: because norms in society shift, the value of people’s economic well-being also change. A just policy also has to focus on the norm-shifts at the higher end in society.

 

 

Redistributive Impacts of Personal Income Taxation and Other Public Policies: A Microsimulation Approach

 

Doctoral student: Lina Salanauskaite
Funding: Maastricht Graduate School of Governance
Promoter: Gerlinde Verbist
Term: 2005 – 2010

 

This doctoral project focuses on the redistributive impact of government policy. It examines different Luxembourg and Lithuania policy designs. More in particular it analyses the determinants of inequality in health care access (policies in kind) and the impact of family policy reforms in Lituania and other EU member states (cash transfers). The analysis of redistribution is carried out on the basis of microsimulation models and econometric analysis, based on administrative data on social security (Luxembourg) and the EU-SILC survey (Lithuania).

 

 

Youngsters and social aid

 

Doctoral student: Marjolijn Dewilde
Funding: Antwerp University
Promoter: Bea Cantillon
Term: 01/03/2009 – 28/02/2011

 

Marjolijn De Wilde’s doctoral research focuses on an aspect of the well documented shift from a social protection state to a social investment state in Europe. One of this investment state’s features is the imposition of conditions in order to be eligible to social aid. Youngsters (-25 years of age) form a distinctive group of which one deems it obvious that they do not enjoy unconditional support. Most of them are indeed able bodied and have, due to their age, hardly contributed anything (at all) to society. These two characteristics seem to have limited their right to social aid in the course of the last decennia. Most Western European countries drafted specific legislation for youngsters who apply for social aid. It generally imposes on youngsters the obligation to be available for work and/or activation and this more than in the past and more than older applicants for social aid.

 

In her research De Wilde aims to investigate which conditions are imposed in practice on granting social aid to youngsters: what is the state of affairs on the right to social aid for this specific group? The focus will lie on a typology of youngsters, selected for their proper characteristics and life story (vignets) in various countries (Belgium, the Netherlands and Sweden), regions and cities.

 

 

The impact of a more flexible labour market on socio-economic inequality

 

Doctoral student: Jeroen Horemans
Funding: Universiteit Antwerpen
Promoter: Ive Marx
Term: 01/10/2009 – 31/09/2011

 

The organization of work in companies is changing. To be competitive organisations must take into account the quickly evolving environmental factors. A way to do this is to deploy the production factor labour flexibly. This production factor however is a human who is embedded in a broader social reality. A flexible labour situation has consequences for diverse life domains such as the family, but also for individuals’ job security, income security, leisure and consumption patterns. This doctoral thesis first sketches the socio-economic profile of employees in various types of flexibility. Furthermore, the impact on employment and wage inequality of these various types are examined. At the same time, the hypothesis of a polarizing labour market are tested.

 

 

Putting the social investment state to the test. Assessing the impact of Dutch and Belgian policy adjustments on poverty and social inequality.

 

Doctoral student: Olivier Pintelon
Funding: Flemish Research Foundation (FWO Vlaanderen)
Promoters: Bea Cantillon & Karel Van den Bosch
Term: 01/10/2010 – 30/09/2012

 

Facing permanent austerity, several European welfare states reinvented themselves as “social investment states” (Giddens, 1998): shifting in focus from providing passive income protection towards increased labour market participation and investing in people's skills. This proposal focuses on the relationship between the social investment state and poverty/social inequality. Although several policy documents assume a natural symbiosis between labour market participation and poverty reduction, a few studies suggest that this relationship is far more ambiguous. To answer this question, the effects of Dutch and Belgian social policies are investigated. The Netherlands and Belgium are 'most similar cases': both countries are very similar (small open transit economies), except for their broad policy reorientations. The Netherlands faced an increased focus on active labour market policies, while Belgian policy adjustments were small and incremental. This project is divided into three distinct phases. First of all, the evolution of poverty and income inequality is described for a long period of time. Secondly, policy and resource indicators are used and collected in order to provide an overview of major social policy adjustments. Finally, these indicators are used to estimate the redistributive effects of social policy, with special attention paid to so-called 'risk households'.

 

 

Reference Budgets for Social Participation

 

Doctoral student: Bérénice Storms
Funding: Methusalem
Promoter: Bea Cantillon
Term: 01/09/2010-25/02/2012

 

This doctoral project addresses the question what income a household minimally needs. Starting from a normative framework on social participation Storms develops concrete baskets of goods and services that include factors such as life span and prices. The reference budgets are first developed for 17 Flemish typical households and are thereafter expanded, so that for nearly every household in Flanders the minimum necessary budget can be computed. The amounts are necessarily relative and depend on various individual and structural factors, among which the social context (e.g. country and region), the time frame, certain individual features (e.g. health) and household features (e.g. size and family composition, housing situation). The reference budgets that result from this exercise are meant to be used by people in the field but also aim to contribute to research on poverty.

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