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The UK's Millennium Cohort Longitudinal Study

 
Presentation by Prof Heather Joshi (2010) at a ChildForum lecture "Children of the 21st Century" on 4 May, at the University of Auckland

The Millennium Cohort Study is the latest in the line of British birth cohort studies. The MCS resembles its predecessors which follow people born in 1946, 1958 and 1970 in the intention to become multi-purpose longitudinal data resource charting many aspects of individual’s lives over time. The families of a sample of around 15,000 babies were interviewed during 2001–02, when eligible babies reach 9 months, to establish the conditions from which they set out in life. The survey contrasts with the previous cohort studies in various ways.

Instead of taking all births in one week, the sample of births is spread over a year; the births are from a selection of electoral wards, thereby enabling eventual analysis by neighbourhood characteristics; it also over samples children living in deprived areas, wards with high ethnic minority populations and samples have been boosted in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. The latter UK country has not been covered by the other studies. It interviews fathers as well as mothers, and given that its initial funding comes via the ESRC, puts a greater emphasis on socio-economic data than in early parts of the other studies. MCS has been enhanced by additional Government funding.

The particular objectives of the first MCS survey are:

  1. To chart the initial conditions of social, economic and health advantages and disadvantages facing new children in the new century, capturing information that the research community of the future will require.
  2. To provide a basis for comparing patterns of development with the preceding cohorts.
  3. To collect information on previously neglected topics, such as fathers’ involvement in children’s care and development, and the effects of season of birth within a year.
  4. To investigate the wider social ecology of the family, including, social networks, civic engagement and community facilities and services.

Findings for the first five years were presented at the lecture.  Read more below ...

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