Alumni profile

Nevena Zhelyazkova

Thesis: Work-Family Reconciliation and Use of Parental Leave in Luxembourg. Empirical Analysis of Administrative Records, 2015

Promotor(s): Joan Muysken and Gilbert Ritschard

Research Interests

Nevena's research interests include labour markets, social protection, gender equality and how these areas interact to produce different outcomes over the life course.  She is particularly interested in life-course research and the reconstruction of individual trajectories using longitudinal data.

Nevena has extensive experience working with large and complex data sets at the individual level. This includes data preparation and explorative analysis, as well as econometric and data-mining tools using Stata and R.


2015: PhD, European Social Protection Policy, UNU-MERIT /  School of Governance, Maastricht University / United Nations University, the Netherlands.

Thesis title: Work-Family Reconciliation and Use of Parental Leave in Luxembourg. Empirical Analysis of Administrative Records.

2007: MSc Great Distinction in Social Policy Analysis (IMPALLA Program), University of Leuven, Belgium and CEPS/INSTEAD, Luxembourg.

Thesis Title: Women's Perceptions of Negative Consequences of Career Interruptions due to Childcare in Eastern Europe. Did the Transition Make a Difference?

2005: BA High Honors in Psychology, Minor in Economics, Smith College, Northampton, MA, USA

Honours Thesis Title: Does the Development of Feminist Identity Ameliorate the Negative Effects of Stereotype Threat on Women's Performance on Spatial Cognition Tasks?

Teaching Experience

Since the autumn of 2010 until 2014 Nevena has taught courses in Introductory Statistics and Econometrics for fellows participating in the programme Research Methods and Skills (RMS), which provides an intensive training in research methodology for professionals and young researchers. The programme is offered jointly by the UNU-MERIT / School of Governance and the Maastricht School of Management.  

In the autumn of 2014, Nevena co-coordinated the course Public Policy Analysis within the Master's Program Public Policy and Human Development  (MPP) offered by UNU-MERIT / School of Governance. The course provides an overview of quantitative methods for policy analysis in ex-ante and ex-post settings, such as micro-simulation, analysis of poverty and inequality, impact evaluation, etc.

Summary of PhD Research

The arrival of a child in the family poses a challenge for most parents. Time and money need to be managed differently in order to ensure that the newborn receives sufficient care.

Based on administrative data from Luxembourg, the analysis explores the work-family reconciliation trajectories of working parents and the role of parental leave in these trajectories.

The results suggest that the birth of a child is a turning point for a large part of women's trajectories, often followed by an interruption or reduction of labour force participation. On the contrary, men's labour force participation appears to remain constant before and after the arrival of the child in the family.

Salary-related earnings are positively associated with the probability to remain in the labour force for women and negatively associated with the probability of taking parental leave for men.

This PhD project has been supported by the National Research Fund, Luxembourg.

Full text of PhD thesis


Selected publications by Nevena Zhelyazkova