The IPSWICH project

The IPSWICH research project on in-work poverty is funded by the BRAIN-be research program (axis 4 – federal public strategies) of BELSPO. This thematic axis finances activities in support of the competences of the federal authorites, in a historic as well as prospective perspective.

IPSWICH stands for In-work Poverty and Shifts in Work, Income, and the Composition of Households. The partners in the project are KU Leuven (HIVA Research Institute for Work and Society and CES Center for Economic Studies), the University of Antwerp (CSB Center for Social Policy), and the ULB (Brussels School of Economics and Management (SBS-EM)).

The project links the issue of poverty on the labour market with the labour market participation and the transitions of workers on the labour market. It consists of three main approaches:

  • The incidence of non-standard work, such as temporary work and part-time work, in relation to the household work intensity and social benefits. We investigate which policy should accommodate each type of work.
  • The institutional conditions for low-wage work, set out by collective bargaining agreements at the sector level providing a minimum wage floor. Do these elements provide a buffer against poverty when the composition of the work force changes trough job flows and sectoral employment shifts?
  • The position of migrant workers and women, incurring risks of discrimination in relation to the productivity and firm-level heterogeneity. A new estimation method challenges existing views on discrimination.

These topics shed a new light on the issue of poverty on the labour market, that is hitherto not much studied in Belgium because of low levels of working poor in international comparison. Because of continued stress on working conditions, however, insight in the way work protects against poverty is needed to maintain the low in-work poverty levels without increasing jobless poverty.

The IPSWICH project will finish in March 2018 with a conference on the present and future of in-work poverty in Belgium.

IPSWICH on the website of Belspo: link.