Interuniversity Center for Social Science Theory and Methodology

Families in transition

Families in transition: Promoting health and well-being over the life course

Families as well as other social relations are pivotal for people’s well-being, health and life chances in all stages of life. Parents support and help their children to become happy, healthy, independent and successful adults; romantic partners are a source of happiness and support in all stages of life; and children and family members often play an important role in the social networks of older adults. Societal developments have transformed families in many ways and will continue to do so. Increased longevity and decreased fertility have given rise to multiple generations sharing longer lives together, with fewer family members per generation. In addition, families have become more diverse, complex and gender-equal because of a rise of non-traditional family types (e.g., divorced families, stepfamilies, same-sex couples) and increased female employment.

The general aim of this research cluster is to gain insight in how families change in response to societal developments and how changing family life affects the social networks, inequality in life chances and the well-being and health of individuals over the life course. Special attention is paid to gender differences.

Examples of research topics are how social networks (including family members) affect the health and well-being of older adults; how changing family compositions affect children’s and parents’ well-being and life chances; and how dual-earner couples combine work and family demands and how this affects well-being and health.

Key Publications

  • Stulp, G., Sear, R., Schaffnit, S. B., Mills, M.C., & Barrett, L. (2016). The reproductive ecology of industrial societies: The association between wealth and fertility. Human Nature, 27(4), 445–470.
  • Van der Heijden, F.I., A. Poortman & T. Van der Lippe. (2016). Children’s postdivorce residence arrangements and parental experienced time pressure. Journal of Marriage and Family, 78, 468-481.
  • Leopold, T., & Kalmijn, M. (2016). Is Divorce More Painful When Couples Have Children? Evidence From Long-Term Panel Data on Multiple Domains of Well-Being. Demography 53, 1717-1742.
  • Lippe, T. van der, Ruijter, E., Ruijter, J. & Raub., W. (2011). Persistent inequalities in time use between men and women: A detailed look at the influence of economic circumstances, policies, and culture. European Sociological Review, 27, 164-179.
  • Steverink, N. & Lindenberg, S. (2006). Which social needs are important for subjective well-being? What happens to them with aging? Psychology and Aging, 21, 281-290.
  • Verbakel, E. (2014). Informal caregiving and well-being in Europe: What can ease the negative consequences for caregivers? Journal of European Social Policy, 24, 424-441.

Coordinators: Anne-Rigt Poortman, Nardi Steverink (contact information)

In the spotlight

Private: SOCION: 30 million euros for social cohesion research

The SOCION consortium, in which social sciences and humanities researchers from five different knowledge institutions are conducting research on social cohesion, has secured a €30 million Summit Grant

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