CRITEVENTS: Critical Life Events and the Dynamics of Inequality: Risk, Vulnerability, and Cumulative Disadvantage

This project studies the impact of two critical life events – job loss and union dissolution – on the life
trajectories of adults and their children. We distinguish between two pathways through which these
events may produce an accumulation of inequality over the life course: risk and vulnerability. Risk refers
to social gradients in the likelihood of experiencing these events, whereas vulnerability refers to social
gradients in the impact of these events on economic and noneconomic outcomes.

Our main objectives are to understand (1) how job loss and union dissolution contribute to the
accumulation of (dis)advantage over the life course; (2) what mechanisms explain the (unequal) impact
of these events; and (3) which work and family policies are effective in targeting these mechanisms in
order to reduce inequality.

Consistent with the aims of the DIAL call, the proposed research will shed light on the causal links
between critical life events and the dynamics of inequality. It will also inform policies that promote the
life chances and well-being of disadvantaged groups in society.

Work will be conducted within five research groups, all of which will apply comparable designs to the
analysis of survey data and register data in five countries: Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden,
Switzerland, and the United Kingdom. Our data will link adults to their children.

We will create academic and policy impact by ongoing dissemination through journal articles, a special
issue, conference presentations, and outreach activities to national and European policymakers and other

Research team

Dr T. Leopold
University of Amsterdam

Dr C. Monden
University of Oxford

Dr J. Härkönen
Stockholm University/European University Institute

Prof. D. Oesch
University of Lausanne