Research projects

This page lists the research projects I have been directly involved with as a researcher or as principal investigator. Please drop me a line if you want more information on any of these projects. I also have been involved in the FAMNET research group of the international (FP6 funded) EQUALSOC network and contributed to the international collaborative (FP7 funded) GINI and Improve projects and the Flemosi project. Published results can be found in my publication list.

On-going research projects

Is it depressing to grow old? A life course perspective on the social origins of old age depression across 20 countries

In this project, we focus on the social determinants of depression and depressive symptoms in old age (i.e. after the age of 65). We empirically examine whether, and if so to what extent, changes in social and economic capital over the life course affect the prevalence of depression and depressive symptoms in old age. In doing so, we (1) identify possible social selection and social causation pathways and gender differences; (2) untangle the causal effects of intergenerational transfers of time and money; and (3) test the role of the institutional context of the welfare state. We draw on comparable, longitudinal health and retirement surveys, providing us with a unique setup to study the social determinants of old age depression across 16 high income welfare states.

Duration: 25/09/2018 – 25/09/2022

Disappointing poverty rates and immigration flows in Western welfare states

A cross-national investigation into the poverty rates of western welfare states and people with a migration background among these countries.

Funding agency: KU Leuven
Duration: 01/10/2019 – 30/09/2023

Project for the operation and development of new statistics in the Datawarehouse Labour Market and Social Protection (DWH LM&SP)

The central aim of this research project is to update, evaluate and further develop the Datawarehouse Labour Market and Social Protection (DWH LM&SP) for the benefit of scientific research and the evaluation of policies.

Funding agency: Federal government (OZ prog)
Period: 01/07/2018 – 30/06/2021

Family support policy

The aim of this pilot study is to gain more insight into the living conditions of vulnerable families with young children, and how the living conditions in six areas of life have evolved in the years following the birth of their youngest child. From their experiences we can learn at which thresholds these families clash, and which forms of support in the six areas of life helped them to move forward. The results will also give us a more nuanced picture of the living conditions of these families than is possible on the basis of the static risk of poverty indicator. Finally, this research can form the basis of a large-scale research design to map the trajectories of people with young children who live in deprivation.

Funding agency: Flemish government (SWVG-EF 40)
Period: 01/08/2019-31/05/2020

MISSION: Mobile Integrated Social Services Increasing employment Outcomes for people in Need

The objective of the MISSION project is to implement a pilot programme aimed at increasing the take up of employment services amongst disadvantaged families in the Belgian city of Kortrijk. The pilot programme will be tested by means of a randomized controlled trial (RCT).

Download the final report

Funding agency: European Commission under the EASI-Progress programme
Period: 01/12/2016-31/11/2019

Completed research projects

Research on the further operationalization and harmonization of income selectivity in Flemish family policy

In order to optimize the choices made by the Flemish government, there is now a need for expertise, critical thinking and analysis in the short term to map out the pros and cons of certain operationalization harmonization proposals. That is the purpose of the this project.

Funding agency: Flemish government
Period: 01/08/2017 – 31/07/2018

Wish, fact and fiction in basic income thinking

The objective of the project is to compile a critical review of the literature on basic income and its effects on several dimensions of people’s lives, and to provide some empirical explorations for the Netherlands using microsimulation techniques.
Funding agency: Stichting Instituut GAK
Co-PI: Ive Marx
Period: 01/04/2017-31/12/2017.

Studie over het toekomstig model van de kinderbijslagen in het Brussels Hoofdstedelijk Gewest.

In this study, potential models for reforming the child benefit system in the Brussels-Capital Region will be examined. Starting point is that child benefits serve to provide cash support for families with children, in particular for families with children living in poverty. Future models need to take into account the particular socio-economic situation and the socio-demographic composition of the Brussels population.
Funding agency: Gem. Gemeenschapscommissie van Brussel-hoofdstad
Period: 01/10/2016-01/09/2017
Researcher: Bart Bozek

Is a work strategy for reducing child poverty amongst disabled children effective or a shot misfired? An empirical exploration of child poverty, childhood disability and the work-care nexus in Flanders

I’m co-supervising FWO-funded PhD research on childhood disability, child poverty, and social policy. The risk of being poor for (families of) disabled children is associated with the fact that a) participation in the labour market is difficult for parents as they need to provide care for their children; b) families with disabled children generally have a lower socioeconomic status; and c) they face more medical and other expenses. The main objective of the research proposal is 1) to investigate the interrelationships between these factors; 2) to identify the impact of the current social policy package in Flanders on labour market participation and poverty; and 3) to examine how the prevailing policy paradigm should be recalibrated to achieve better results in terms of child poverty reduction.
Funding agency: Fund for Scientific Research – Flanders
Period: 01/10/2015-31/09/2019
Researcher: Julie Vinck

In depth analysis on effects of poverty on the living and working conditions of women and on their children.

Upon request by European Parliament’s FEMM Committee, this in-depth analysis examines the extent of women’s poverty in the EU and the impact of social exclusion through poverty on living and working conditions of women and their children. The analysis concludes with a discussion of policy measures that have been taken in EU Member States for enabling paid employment and ensuring adequate income protection.

Funding agency: European Parliament
Period: 01/03/2015-31/03/2015

Een empirisch onderzoek naar de betaalbaarheid en wenselijkheid van hervormingen in de toekomstige Vlaamse kinderbijslag: uitwerken en simuleren van mogelijke en haalbare scenario’s.

De doelstelling van het onderzoeksproject is tweeledig: 1) het uitwerken, valideren en evalueren van hervormingsvoorstellen van de kinderbijslag op Vlaams niveau; en 2) het in kaart brengen van de uitkomsten en knelpunten van het implementeren van een inkomenstoets (gerelateerd aan de gezinsgrootte) in de kinderbijslag op Vlaams niveau.

Funding agency: Steunpunt WVG
Period: 01/12/2014-31/12/2015
Co-superviser: Gerlinde Verbist
Researcher: Julie Vinck

Child poverty, childhood disability and the work-care nexus: Data collection and a first empirical exploration of the social policy package in Flanders

The main purpose of this KP-BOF project is to initatiate new empirical research on the link between child poverty and childhood disability. Drawing on administrative data which will be disclosed for the first time, the project aims to conduct a proper overview of the poverty risk of children with disabilities in Belgium and to develop new hypotheses on the impact of social policy on the poverty risk of these children.

Funding agency: BOF University of Antwerp
Period: 01/02/2015-31/12/2015
Researcher: Julie Vinck

A long goodbye to the paradox of redistribution? An inquiry into the role of policy design in poverty reduction across and within developed welfare states (2014-2017)

This postdoctoral research project is funded by the Research Foundation Flanders (FWO) and supervised by Bea Cantillon (University of Antwerp). The question of how social policy should be designed in order to have the biggest impact on poverty, is often answered with the truism that ‘policies designed for the poor, are poor policies’. Indeed, it was generally found that universally designed social policies are better able to reduce poverty than policies targeted to the poor; a phenomenon termed the ‘paradox of redistribution’. Behind this paradox lies the observation that universal welfare states tend to be bigger welfare states; they spend more on social policy. In contrast, recent empirical studies find that targeting tends to be associated with higher instead of lower levels of poverty reduction, in particular when accompanied by high levels of social spending. The current state of the literature does not allow to explain the changed relationship between targeting and poverty reduction. Therefore, the main aim of this research proposal is to unravel the link between poverty reduction and targeting across and within developed economies. I will empirically address two hypotheses that might shed light on the mechanisms of how social policy impacts on poverty, and seek to understand the role played by the design of social policy. I will address several shortcomings of previous research and test the generalizability of the results using quantitative as well as a qualitative research methods.

Funding agency: Research Foundation Flanders (FWO)
Period: 01/10/2014-30/09/2017

The Social State of Flanders 2013 – The income position of single parent families in Flanders (2013)

This research project funded by the Flemish Government and supervised by Bea Cantillon (University of Antwerp) and Dimitri Mortelmans (University of Antwerp) investigates the income position of single parent families and the impact of divorce and widowhood in this respect, both within Flanders and Belgium as across European countries.

The redistributive capacity of the innovating welfare state: a comparative evaluation of Sweden, The Netherlands and Belgium (2010-2014)

This is a research project funded by the Research Foundation Flanders (FWO) and supervised by Bea Cantillon (University and Antwerp) and Joris Ghysels (Maastricht University). Historically, welfare states emerged to guarantee fair life conditions to all and to do so, protected the full population against the adverse consequences of “social risks” such as illness, unemployment and disability. However, society has changed over time and “new” social risks (NSRs) emerged, such as the inability to reconcile paid work and care. Accordingly, welfare states developed new social policies. This research project aims to assess these adjustments in three welfare states (Belgium/Flanders, Sweden and the Netherlands) in a European comparative perspective, with the work-family conflict as a case in point. Since inequality is on the rise again in Europe, the overarching research question concerns the role of NSR policies in the redistributive capacity of welfare states. The question “who profits the most from social policies and is this distribution efficient?” is rarely subject of investigation but is of uttermost importance in the light of social policymaking subject to budgetary constraints and shifting priorities due to – for instance – population ageing. The project is innovative as it sheds new light on coverage for NSRs, fuels the theoretical debate on the mechanisms underlying welfare state redistribution and opens the way for policy innovation concerning a more equalizing distributional agenda.

The determinants of care strategies amongst low skilled mothers (2008-2010)

This is a research project funded by the Research Foundation Flanders (FWO) and supervised by Bea Cantillon (University and Antwerp) and Joris Ghysels (Maastricht University). The aim is to investigate and explain the low labour market participation rates of low skilled mothers in Belgium. Employing new survey data will allow to include care as one the main explanatory factors into the analysis.