PhD Consequences of Parental Death for Partners and Children NIDI / KNAW

Location: Den Haag
Max hours per week: 38.00
Max salary: 
Duration of agreement: 4 years (1+3)
Apply until: 04/02/2023

Project description

Most studies on family instability and complexity focus on parental divorce. Although divorce is currently the most common source of family instability and complexity, it is not the only one. The current project focuses on another source of family instability: the early death of a parent and the formation of a stepfamily after the surviving parent repartners. The project studies the patterns, determinants, and consequences of widowhood in a comparative perspective from a multi-generational perspective. The focus is on children who experienced the death of a parent while growing up. From the perspective of adults, the focus is on parents and who experienced the death of a spouse while having children growing up in the household. We compare widowed parents to both married/partnered and divorced parents and we compare children of widowed parents to children of married/partnered and divorced parents. The project aims to answer research questions like: (a) What is the socioeconomic gradient in the determinants of widowhood, how does this gradient vary across countries and across birth cohorts, and how do these patterns compare to the socioeconomic gradient in divorce? (b) What are the consequences of widowhood for the well-being trajectories of children and adults and how do these compare to the well-being trajectories after divorce? (c) What are the patterns of stepfamily formation after widowhood and how do these compare to stepfamily formation after divorce? (d) How do relationships between children and stepparents compare to relationships with biological parents and how this differ depending on whether the biological parent is divorced or widowed? (e) What is the role of (parent) gender in the patterns, determinants, and consequences of widowhood and step-parenthood? Several different data sources will be analyzed, including the OKiN survey, the Comparative Panel File, the Generations and Gender Surveys, the IPUMS data, and data from the Dutch national register.


The project will be supervised by Matthijs Kalmijn and Helga de Valk.


Function description

  • Carry out cutting edge academic research within an international team of engaged researchers.
  • Publish international journal articles within the described project resulting in a PhD thesis defended at the University of Groningen.
  • Participate in and present at (inter-)national scientific meetings (in so far as possible) and contribute to dissemination activities of the project.



  • A research master degree (or equivalent) in sociology, demography, economics, social geography, or social psychology.
  • A solid background in quantitative data analyses and strong skills in advanced statistical methods and programming (e.g., STATA).
  • Excellent knowledge of English. 
  • Excellent writing skills.


About NIDI

The Netherlands Interdisciplinary Demographic Institute (NIDI) is a leading European demographic research institute. NIDI is part of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW) and affiliated with the University of Groningen. It is located in the center of The Hague providing a unique and stimulating research environment in the broad field of population studies. Currently the staff of the institute consists of about 65 employees of different levels of seniority and organized in a rather horizontal structure within four thematic research groups. The working environment is highly international and NIDI provides ample opportunities for training and development.


Terms of employment

The candidate is expected to start between June-September, 2023. The initial appointment will be for a period of 1 year. After positive evaluation, the appointment will be extended for another 3 years.


Depending on education and experience the minimum salary is € 2.541 in year 1 and the maximum salary is € 3.247 gross per month in year 4 for a full-time appointment (scale P cao Nederlandse Universiteiten/KNAW). This is exclusive of 8% vacation allowance, 8.3% year-end bonus, travel allowance, internet allowance, home working allowance and pension accrual with ABP. The initial appointment will be for a period of 1 year. After positive evaluation, the appointment will be extended for another 3 years.


Non Dutch applicants are required to relocate to The Netherlands. If and when necessary, NIDI will apply for the residence permit. Non Dutch employees may qualify for a Tax break (30% Ruling).


The KNAW offers its staff an excellent package of secondary benefits. A package that meets the different needs of employees depending on their stage of life, lifestyle or career ambitions. For example, by working an extra two hours a week, it is possible to increase the number of days off from 29 to 41 days a year (with full-time employment). 

For a complete overview of the terms of employment, please refer to the web page: werken bij de KNAW.


Application procedure 
Candidates are invited to submit their application in English. Applicants should include: 

  • Letter of motivation (max 1 page)
  • Curriculum vitae 
  • Copy of university BA and MA grades (transcript) 
  • One sample of written work (copy of master dissertation, published article, or coursework)
  • Names and contact details of one referee
  • All these should be included in a single PDF file
  • Initial interviews will be online with Zoom; follow-up interviews will be in The Hague


Diversity & Inclusion
The KNAW considers a working environment in which everyone feels welcome and appreciated of great importance. A working environment in which attention is paid to individual quality and where development opportunities are paramount. Together we strive for an inclusive culture in which we embrace differences. We would therefore like to invite candidates who want to contribute to this through their background and experience. In the event of equal suitability, preference will be given to the candidate who thus enhances diversity within the Academy.

We will not respond to any supplier enquiries based on this job advertisement.