ERD Reports and Publications

Reports and Publications

Diplomatic partners and paid work: challenges and remedies (2024)

Partners and spouses accompanying foreign service officers on their missions abroad experience severe difficulties in maintaining paid work. While the great majority of European diplomatic partners prefer to have a job on posting, they face many barriers. This report analyses data from two large pan-European surveys and summarises existing remedies provided by MFAs across Europe.

Read the report here.

Dependency and divorce/separation in the Foreign Service: experiences, consequences, and recommendations (2023)

Divorce is uniquely challenging for foreign service partners and spouses. The EUFASA Research Department conducted an interview study with ex-spouses and -partners and looked into the supports provided by European MFAs and family associations. The study highlights how partners’ and spouses’ limited work opportunities and legal status and the resulting dependence on the foreign service officer make it difficult to afford legal counsel, get a fair settlement, find help in cases of abuse, gain custody of minor children when abroad, and to support themselves after divorce/separation. Maintaining a financial safety net proves elusive, even for highly educated spouses. The report includes an extensive catalogue of supports that can be offered by MFAs and family associations.

Read the study here.

European diplomatic partners’ and spouses’ pensions: problems and solutions (2023)

The work and social rights of foreign service partners are severely affected when they accompany foreign service officers abroad. While many European countries have targeted policy or legal provisions in place to mitigate the negative impact, more should be done to ensure independent and dignified pensions for this population.

Read the report here.

Gender and Identity in a Turbulent Space and Time: An Interview Study of Dual-Career Diplomatic Couples (2021)

The first output of this longitudinal qualitative study presents main results and sets the landscape of dual-career couples in the FCDO UK foreign service. The results suggest that access to paid work and a professional identity is important for both partners for the sense of balance in their relationship as a couple. Various dual-career models and strategies have been identified. This study is being conducted in cooperation with ESCP Business School London, King’s College London, Loughborough University London and Aarhus University.

Read the report here.

Burnout and Resilience in Foreign Service Spouses during the Pandemic, and the Role of Organizational Support (2023)

The results of the ERD’s first research study on burnout, resilience and organizational support were published in the journal Sustainability in January 2023.

Read the research article here.

Foreign service spouses during the COVID-19 pandemic: Results from two studies on burnout, resilience, and MFA support (2022)

The ERD’s follow-up survey of foreign service partners and spouses found that resilience had improved and the rate of personal burnout had fallen since early 2021, but personal burnout rates remained somewhat high. The war in Ukraine appeared to be contributing to stress levels in spring 2022. Partners and spouses reported having a variety of coping mechanisms, but MFA support remained insufficient and MFA policies sometimes conflict with partners’ coping strategies.

Read the 2-page summary report here

Read the longer report with data here

Impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on Foreign Service partners: stress, burnout and MFA support (2021)

The ERD’s first survey of the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic from January 2021 found that levels of personal burnout among foreign service partners and spouses was very high, and resilience low; some measures of MFA support were found to be correlated with better outcomes, but support measures on average appeared insufficient.

Read the 2-page summary report here

Supporting diplomatic partners and spouses during a crisis – lessons from Covid-19 (2021)

Based on the ERD’s research findings on burnout and resilience among partners and spouses during the pandemic in 2020/2021, EUFASA produced a policy paper on how to support partners and spouses during crises.

Read the policy paper here