The Living Conditions (LC) department aims to produce research of exceptional scientific calibre and societal significance on the topics of public policies, welfare, and socio-economic inequalities. With the goal of enhancing understanding of the drivers of poverty, inequality, and social cohesion, the department conducts research on policy-relevant questions, including the efficiency, sustainability, and role of social policies and the welfare state.
The department is by nature interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary and studies the various dimensions of individuals' and families' lives that influence and are influenced by inequality, from early childhood to retirement. Our research draws on a variety of perspectives and statistical and econometrics methodologies, and rich datasets including survey and administrative data, to analyze income, wealth, inequality, poverty, and social inclusion. The department's work also includes the evaluation of the impact of various fiscal, family, educational, health, pension, and other social policies.
In addition to its own research initiatives, LC also contributes to the interdisciplinary research programs of the Institute, collaborating with the Labour Market and Urban Development and Mobility Departments on critical issues such as labour market policies, the housing crisis, environmental challenges, and their effect on people's behaviour.
The participation of LC in the Institute's "Health & Health Systems" transversal research program covers topics ranging from the impact of ageing on health and the economy to health inequalities. Together with the "Crossing Borders" transversal program, LC investigates the effects of migration on social cohesion, voters’ preferences, and the education system.
LC is committed to advancing the new institutional Competence Centres on Data Science and Simulation, as well as Experimental and Participatory Research. Our contributions to these areas range from studying innovative educational methodologies, such as digital learning platforms, to developing advanced tools, including behavioural and dynamic microsimulation and cutting-edge machine learning methods. We also contribute through the development of qualitative and mixed methods.
A word from our Director of department, Eugenio Peluso
The Living Conditions (LC) department strives for excellence in both scientific research and societal impact. While historically, these two pursuits used to be viewed as distinct endeavours, in recent years, LC has successfully managed to make them converge, resulting in increasing synergies between academic and collaborative research with impact on policymakers and society.
More precisely, our objective is to enhance the societal impact of our research by increasing the visibility of our outputs and prioritizing policy-relevant topics in our project portfolio. Our strategy is to shape a comprehensive research program resting on streams of funded projects that generate complementarities and synergies between competitive, contractual, and doctoral research. This is already happening in fields such as “fiscal and social policy” and “childhood, family, and education”, with several successful projects on topics such as parental leave policy, social assistance, education, and children's well-being. We are also working to apply this approach to other research areas, including housing and urban economics and environmental change.
The members of LC maintain strong relationships with stakeholders through a robust research infrastructure and a comprehensive network that includes almost all Luxembourgish Ministries and several European institutions. At the same time, we try to develop synergies through co-creation with our stakeholders, by identifying key-issues for research and policy-making. Thanks to their valuable support, we can in turn collect new data, making it available for academic research.
The combination of strategic recruitment practices to attract the brightest young talents and close collaborations with the academic community (especially the University of Luxembourg) in the fields of social sciences, economics and data sciences, helps us achieve our academic excellence goals. Our network focused on inequality analyses involves a wide range of European research centres and universities, resulting in numerous joint publications, training programs, research projects, and visiting schemes. Our partnership with LIS, the Cross-national data centre in Luxembourg, serves as a source of international recognition and strengthens our research potential on key topics.
The coordination and monitoring of scientific excellence and societal impact is guaranteed by two internal committees: the Scientific Committee and the Societal Impact Committee. The former is responsible for shaping the research policy of the department, aligning it with the Institute's multiyear strategic plan, and positioning it within the European research landscape. The latter, on the other hand, looks at the best ways to promote the work of the department and to identify new opportunities for collaboration and research.