The Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) today published its Longitudinal Studies Strategic Review, a report by an international panel, which was commissioned by the ESRC to review its investment in longitudinal studies.
The longitudinal studies currently funded by ESRC include the four national cohort studies at the Centre for Longitudinal Studies (CLS), UCL Institute of Education. These are the birth cohort studies of 1958, 1970, and the Millennium, and Next Steps (an adolescent cohort born 1989-90). The ESRC also funds the household panel study Understanding Society, at the University of Essex.
The panel strongly endorsed the value and uniqueness of the ESRC’s portfolio of longitudinal studies, and recommended their continued funding into the future. The birth cohort studies at CLS were recommended for their in-depth coverage of different ages and life stages, from childhood through to early older age, which have supported the development of many government policies, including on breastfeeding, childhood obesity, and welfare-to-work, and have also underpinned medical advances.
In addition to recommending that the ESRC continues to support its existing studies, it also, importantly, recommended that the ESRC should commission a new birth cohort study to capture new generations of young children.
The review pointed to the future direction of travel for the ESRC’s longitudinal studies. This includes making the most of opportunities for administrative record linkages and innovation in data collection methods, and doing more to demonstrate the studies’ policy impact.
Responding to the report, Alissa Goodman, Director of the Centre for Longitudinal Studies, said:
“We welcome the report, and the panel’s recommendations that the ESRC’s longitudinal studies, including the national cohorts at our centre, should be supported into the future to address some of the most important upcoming policy challenges, from those faced by new generations of young children, right through to the economic and societal consequences of an ageing population.”
Becky Francis, Dean of the UCL Institute of Education said:
“We are proud to support four national longitudinal studies at the UCL Institute of Education, which contribute so much to UK social science and policy. We welcome the review’s recommendations for ongoing support from the ESRC, and for their future development and innovation.”
The panel’s review is available to read on the ESRC website.