12 years of research at the LIVES Research Centre on life course and vulnerability in Switzerland

Press release

Advances in social sciences

12 years of research at the LIVES Research Centre on life course and vulnerability in Switzerland 

Lausanne & Geneva, 26 September 2022 – For 12 years, the National Centre of Competence in Research (NCCR) LIVES has conducted research on vulnerability across the life course. By favouring the object of study rather than a single scientific discipline, LIVES has contributed to breaking down silos and has fostered a culture of interdisciplinarity within its teams. Bringing together psychologists, sociologists, demographers, statisticians and economists, LIVES continues its research at the universities of Lausanne and Geneva. Until the end of 2022, a human library, a round table, an exhibition with the Art Brut museum, a series of podcasts and other publications will transmit the results of these first 12 years of research to professionals and the general public, on themes that affect us all.

Although Switzerland is one of the richest and happiest countries in the world, vulnerability is present in the daily lives of its inhabitants. For example, one third of the population suffers from mental illness, one in six people are at risk of poverty, one in eight elderly people suffer from loneliness, and one third of those who could benefit from a social benefit (subsidy, pension or other) do not use it. LIVES research has led to an evolving definition of vulnerability, which is dynamic (constructed over time), multi-level (intervention of individual, social and institutional aspects) and multi-dimensional (the various domains of life - work, health, leisure, family, etc. - influence each other). 

The results have made it possible to deconstruct certain preconceived ideas and to make significant advances in public policies, by highlighting the progressive accumulation of deficits on multiple dimensions and levels. Finally, on the basis of these new definitions and the results obtained, LIVES researchers insist on the fact that we can all be in a situation of vulnerability at various times in our lives, and give clues as to the conditions conducive to the resilience of individuals.                 

The direct impact of LIVES results for policy makers and the public

In order to disseminate the results of these first 12 years on a large scale, LIVES holds numerous activities for the general public, professionals and researchers.

  • Human Library - researchers will deliver their research results in the form of stories. Access to care, family dynamics during confinement or homophobia, all the themes of this original bookshop illustrate the vulnerabilities of the life course through poignant stories. The first event takes place on 13 October 2022, from 3.30 to 6.30 pm at the Coccinelle Café in Lausanne (from 2 to 3.30 pm for the media).


Librairie humaine LIVES

  • Public roundtable - on November 16, 2022, at the IDHEAP (UNIL), the LIVES Centre invites journalists, professionals, local authorities and any interested person to a conference about the impact of LIVES research on public policies. On the agenda: integration of research in public policies, health of people in vulnerable situations and the perspective of users. Full information on our website.

Table-ronde LIVES

  • Exhibition "LIVES. Art Brut et Parcours de Vie" - In collaboration with the Collection de l'Art Brut in Lausanne, this exhibition brings together 7 authors. Until 27 November 2022, the works of these Swiss artists or artists who have lived in Switzerland are on display in Lausanne.

LIVES. Art Brut et Parcours de vie

Continuity ensured by a new management duo

After 12 years of research financed by the Swiss National Science Foundation, the NCCR LIVES is giving way to the Centre LIVES, which continues its mission within the universities of Lausanne and Geneva, in partnership with the HES-SO. This transition is an opportunity to pass the torch to a new management team. On 1 August 2022, Daniel Oesch succeeded Dario Spini as co-director of CIR-LIVES at UNIL. Clémentine Rossier will take over from Eric Widmer as head of the Geneva section of LIVES at UNIGE from 2023. "The LIVES Centre remains a unique centre of competence in Switzerland; it promotes interdisciplinary research that examines the emergence of vulnerability over the entire life course, integrating all areas of life," explains the new management team. Clémentine Rossier and Daniel Oesch have been members of LIVES for many years and will ensure the continuity of the Centre's scientific missions, in line with the needs of the City.

"The perpetuation of the LIVES Centre is the recognition of our results obtained during these first 12 years.
12 years. Many projects are now associated with the Centre and will continue to study the emergence of vulnerability", says Prof. Dario Spini, Director of the NCCR LIVES. "Throughout this collaboration, we have made a point of focusing on the subject of our research, putting aside the methodological blinkers of the various disciplines," adds Prof. Eric Widmer, co-director. A scientific book entitled "Withstanding Vulnerability Throughout Adult Life" (to be published this autumn) and an interactive glossary containing some 30 definitions are the fruits of these collaborations and allow us to share a common language. A summary of the LIVES Celebrations programme is available online at www.centre-lives.ch/celebrations

LIVES Board of directors
From left to right: Dario Spini, Clémentine Rossier, Daniel Oesch, Eric Widmer



Since 2011, the research of LIVES (Swiss Centre of Competence in Life Course and Vulnerability Research) has been investigating the effects of the economy and society on the evolution of situations of vulnerability through longitudinal and comparative studies. The LIVES Centre aims to better understand the emergence and evolution of vulnerability as well as the means to overcome it in order to foster the emergence of innovative socio-political measures. It is hosted by the Universities of Lausanne and Geneva and comprises a network of some 200 researchers from various disciplines throughout Switzerland and abroad.