Temporal and spatial analysis of social inequalities in Belgium and Luxemburg


CALL: 2008

DOMAIN: SR - Environmental and Earth Sciences

FIRST NAME: Philippe






START: 2008-02-15

END: 2012-09-30

WEBSITE: https://www.liser.lu/

Submitted Abstract

Today, despite the improvement of the quality of life in Belgium and Luxemburg, social exclusion continues to exist and inequalities even increase. The risks of social relegation increase with instability of occupational careers, of family networks, as well as with restructuring of the welfare state. Finally, these social changes are the more violent that they are reinforced by a process of increasingly sharp separation of social groups in space.This research proposal is based on the possibility to link the census data results of 1991 and 2001 in Belgium and similar data in Luxemburg at the individual level and concerns a multidisciplinary exploration of social inequalities (the Luxemburg partner will apply for additional research money at the FNRL). In order to do so, the social inequalities between individuals belonging to the active and post-active population, distinguished by age, gender and ethnicity (the three relevant characteristics on which one has no grip), will be analysed at each census date in the fields of household structure, housing and neighbourhood characteristics, education, employment, health and citizenship (social and political rights varying with nationality) . This will yield the definition of social groups at the lower end of the social continuum. Distinction between groups will be made on the grounds of level of precariousness, composition of precariousness (position in the fields under analysis) and age, gender and ethnicity.The added value of the research stems from the fact that the database combines three characteristics: it covers (nearly) the whole population, it is available at the individual level and it is longitudinal. This enables to explore temporal and spatial dimensions of inequality in a comprehensive way.The temporal dimension of the analysis involves a) a longitudinal analysis of both forward and backward changes in the positions of the individuals belonging to the social groups under consideration and b) an analysis of intra- and intergenerational change for the members of the households to which these selected individuals belong, again both forward and backward (intragenerational analysis compares life courses of partners who united or split during the intercensital period and of brothers and sisters).The spatial dimension involves a) an exploration of neighbourhood effects (how far do the neighbourhood characteristics explain changes in the position of the individuals, including differences between the urban and the rural context and between different types of urban neighbourhoods), b) an analysis of residential mobility and its relation with changes in precariousness, c) a comparative analysis at the regional level (involving for example differences between industrial and tertiary regions, in economic decline or economic growth) and d) a comparative analysis at the “state” level (involving differences in welfare provision between the three Belgian Regions and Luxemburg).The results of this exploratory analysis will be framed in the context of broader societal changes over the last decades as aging population, the second demographic transition (i.e. increasing diversification and instability of household structures), growing gender awareness, multiculturality and socio-spatial polarisation. These changes relate to the transition from intensive to flexible economic growth regimes, or from fordism to postfordism, which took place during the late 1970s and early 1980s. Therefore, the analysis of inequalities will be extended as much as possible to the 1970 and the 1981 census.The whole analysis will be embedded in a theoretical framework based on the concept of mode of economic integration of Karl Polanyi. These modes of economic integration can be defined as the basic types of relations that people develop in order to secure access to their means of existence. Polanyi shows that

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