Vera de Bel

Vera de Bel


28 Pont d'Arve, bureau 209
+41 22 379 37 93
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PostDoc: CH-X

The next two years I will be working on the CH-X (https://www.chx.ch/) project, which is about personal networks of young adults in Switzerland. I will be working on the question which social capital matters for young adults’ educational attainment and entrance to the labour market. I will also be teaching the Social Networks Analysis seminar.

PhD: The ripple effect in family networks.
Relational structures and well-being in divorced and non-divorced families

The divorce rate in Europe has doubled over the last 50 years. This thesis investigated why some families fare better than others after parental divorce in terms of relationship quality, conflict and well-being. Parental divorce not only affects relationships in the nuclear family, i.e., parents and children, but also extended family members, i.e., grandparents and aunts/uncles. At the same time, extended family members can be an important source of support for nuclear family members after parental divorce. In this thesis we conclude that family relationships are interdependent. The child-parent relationship, and the sibling-parent relationship, is an important predictor for the mutual sibling relationship. Studying the larger family network and comparing divorced and non-divorced families, we see that contact between the three generations is lower in divorced families compared to non-divorced families. Less contact with a family member on one side of the family goes together with more contact with an equivalent family member on the other side of the family, but this is not stronger in divorced families. The second conclusion of this thesis is: family relationships affect well-being. This is derived from a study in which we analyse ambivalent, i.e., positive and negative, family relationships and the final study in which we find that if you can turn to family members for emotional and practical support, this slightly contributes to family members’  well-being. Again, we did not find differences between divorced and non-divorced families. Multi-Actor Family Network data were collected among divorced and non-divorced families in Lifelines.


  • de Bel, V. (2020). Kringen in de vijver van het familienetwerk. Sociologie Magazine, 28(3), 30–31.
  • de Bel, V. (2020). The ripple effect in family networks. Relational structures and well-being in divorced and non-divorced families [University of Groningen]. https://www.rug.nl/research/portal/nl/publications/the-ripple-effect-in-family-networks(7f3442b8-f77c-4d85-8096-4f7e5625250d).html
  • Widmer, E. D., de Bel, V., Ganjour, O., Girardin, M., & Zufferey, M.-E. (2020). Dynamiques familiales et COVID-19: Réactions à la période de confinement. In F. Gamba, M. Nardone, T. Ricciardi, & S. Cattacin (Eds.), COVID-19: Le regard des sciences social (pp. 159–177). Seismo.
  • de Bel, V., & Van Gasse, D. (2020). Knotting the Safety Net. A Multi-Actor Family Network Approach in Divorce Research. In D. Mortelmans (Ed.), Divorce in Europe. New insights in trends, causes and consequences of relation break-ups. (1st ed., p. 357). Cham, Switzerland: Springer. doi:10.1007/978-3-030-25838-2
  • de Bel, V., Kalmijn, M., & van Duijn, M. A. J. (2019). Balance in Family Triads: How Intergenerational Relationships Affect the Adult Sibling Relationship. Journal of Family Issues, 40(18), 2707–2727. doi:10.1177/0192513X19860181
  • Spiegel, T., de Bel, V., & Steverink, N. (2016). Keeping up appearances: The role of identity concealment in the workplace among adults with degenerative eye conditions and its relationship with wellbeing and career outcomes. Disability and Rehabilitation, 38(7), 627–636. doi:10.3109/09638288.2015.1055378
  • de Bel, V. (2015). The co-evolution of well-being and the kinship network after parental divorce: the pilot study. University of Groningen. Retrieved from https://gmw.studenttheses.ub.rug.nl/22791/

Personnel académique