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Employment and Poverty in a Changing Society (EMPOV)

Research project TA/00/45 (Research action TA)


Persons :

  • Dr.  VERBIST Gerlinde - Universiteit Antwerpen (UA)
    Coordinator of the project
    Financed belgian partner
    Duration: 15/2/2012-30/9/2015
  • Dr.  JOUSTEN Alain - Université de Liège (ULG)
    Financed belgian partner
    Duration: 15/2/2012-30/9/2015
  • Dhr.  MARX Ive - Universiteit Antwerpen (UA)
    Not-financed belgian partner
    Duration: 15/2/2012-30/9/2015

Description :

This research project aims for additional theoretical and empirical insights into the link between employment, demographic developments and poverty outcomes, at the individual and the household level, with a particular focus on women and migrants. We focus on those demographic groups that have difficulties in finding employment, and hence face an increased poverty risk. The project is structured along three work research questions:

1) Will employment growth lead to a decrease in poverty? Which policy options can lead to better employment and poverty outcomes for the population in general and for specific demographic groups?

This research question analyses the relationship between labour market position and social inclusion by demographic and other characteristics. It first looks at employment and poverty dynamics in a retrospective way, thereby analysing the changes in employment chances and earnings, allocation mechanisms at the household level and job quality trends. This work package will also analyse the impact of increasing the employment rate on the Europe 2020 poverty targets, using econometric techniques. Using the microsimulation technique, different alternative options will be investigated. The other two research themes go into more depth in the situation of two groups that are notable in Belgium for their low degree of employment, namely the (female) population over 50 and non-EU born migrants.

2) What are the drivers of labour market behaviour of women older than 50?

Belgium is characterized by a rapid aging of the population combined with overall low labour force participation for older workers. While demographic aging and increasing life expectancy are affecting workers of both sexes in comparable ways, there are two main features that make the female labour force dynamics particularly distinctive. First, there is the seminal trend towards increasing labour force participation of women. This trend leads to sharply different outcomes in terms of labour force and social program participation – making simple extrapolations of findings for male workers to women hard – if not impossible. Second, there is the distinctive feature that the female workers have a large heterogeneity of earnings histories, with more frequent breaks for child and family care than in the case of their male counterparts. The second work package addresses this specific issue by empirically investigating the labour force participation incentives faced by older female workers, be it financial or non-financial incentives (such as health conditions and family characteristics).

3) How can we explain the employment and poverty gap between non-EU migrants and natives? What are potential policy options to reduce these gaps?

Thirdly, the project analyses the determinants of the low employment rates of non-EU migrants. Specific attention will be paid to their job characteristics and how this interacts with their migrant specific characteristics (e.g. country of origin, reason for migration etc.). Attention will also be paid to second generation migrants, labour market trajectories as well as the household context. In view of the increasingly precarious position of non-EU migrants, this work package will also delve deeper into the underling mechanisms of various policy domains (i.e. not only the impact of labour market institutions, active labour market policies and care support facilities, but also migration law and integration policies). This project focuses on Belgium, but as internationally comparative data are used, Belgian outcomes will be put in a European perspective.


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