Initial findings from the Millennium Cohort Study Age 14 Sweep

Background

Through the Millennium Cohort Study (MCS) we have been following the lives of over 19, 500 people since they were born in the UK at the turn of the new century. The most recent MCS survey, or ‘sweep’, took place when cohort members were 14. Here you can read our initial findings from this sweep. They examine a range of issues relevant to young people’s lives today, from mental health to obesity and risky activities.

Research details

Project title

Initial findings from the MCS Age 14 sweep.

Project lead

Emla Fitzsimons

Themes

Child development

Education

Employment, income and wealth

Expectations, attitudes and beliefs

Family and social networks

Health behaviour

Housing and local environment

Mental health and wellbeing

Physical health

Dates

2017-2018

Funders

ESRC and a consortium of government departments

Summary

Using data from the most recent MCS sweep, at age 14, this project examined a range of issues relevant to young people’s lives today:

  • Mental ill-health and wellbeing
  • The prevalence of risky behaviours in adolescence
  • University and occupational aspirations
  • Overweight and obesity
  • Language development

Below you can read a summary of our briefings on each topic. You can also download and read the full briefings.

 

Mental ill-health and wellbeing

Key findings from this briefing include:

  • Certain factors, such as being overweight, not getting along with peers and being bullied, were associated with high depressive symptoms for boys and girls at age 14.
  • Girls from homes with lower family income were more likely to report poorer mental health and lower wellbeing than their better-off peers.
  • Girls who enjoyed primary school and felt engaged in their studies were less likely to have higher depressive symptoms.
  • Mental ill-health and poor wellbeing do not always go hand in hand: a large proportion of young people experienced low wellbeing despite not having high depressive symptoms; and a very small proportion of individuals, mainly boys, experienced good wellbeing in the presence of mental ill-health.

This was a follow up to an earlier briefing in this series, examining mental ill-health at age 14.

 

Risky behaviours: prevalence in adolescence

This briefing explores:

  • How common risk-taking behaviour is among teenagers in the UK.
  • Which risky activities teenagers are more likely to get involved in, including substance use and anti-social behaviour.
  • How risky behaviours differ according to teenagers’ backgrounds.

 

The university and occupational aspirations of UK teenagers

This briefing shows:

  • Girls thought they had a 71 per cent chance of going to university, and 14 per cent of girls were 100 per cent certain they would go
  • Boys were less sure; their average expectation was 63 per cent, and just under 10 per cent were absolutely convinced they would get to university.
  • Compared to boys, the average hourly wage for the occupations that girls aspired to was a striking 27 per cent or £6.49 lower.

 

Child overweight and obesity

This briefing reveals:

  • 20 per cent of cohort members were obese at age 14 and a further 15 per cent were overweight.
  • Between ages 11 and 14, most cohort members stayed in the same weight category. Boys were slightly more likely to have become normal weight than overweight or obese, while the opposite was the case for girls.
  • 14-year-olds whose mothers had a low level of education were more likely to be of excess weight than those whose mothers had a degree.

 

What influences voacbulary?

This briefing investigates:

  • The extent to which parents’ English language skills are passed on to their children.
  • The influence of factors like parents’ level of education and ethnicity on children’s language development.
  • The association between reading for pleasure and young people’s level of vocabulary.

 

Mental ill-health among children of the new century

Key findings from this briefing include:

  • 24 per cent of girls and 9 per cents of boys were depressed at age 14.
  • 14-year-olds from better-off families were less likely to have high levels of depressive symptoms compared to their peers from poorer homes.
  • Emotional symptoms of 14-year olds often differed depending on whether they were reported by themselves or their parents.

This is the first of two briefings examining mental ill-health, in this series of age 14 initial findings.

Outputs

Briefing paper

MCS Age 14 initial findings - Risky behaviours: prevalence in adolescence

Download
Infographic

MCS Age 14 initial findings - teens and cyber crime

Download
Briefing paper

MCS Age 14 initial findings - The university and occupational aspirations of UK teenagers

Download
Infographic

MCS Age 14 initial findings - Occupational aspirations and gender differences

Download
News

One in five young people obese at age 14

12 December 2017 One in five young people born in the UK at the turn of the century was obese by the age of 14, and a further 15 per cent were found to be overweight.
Briefing paper

MCS Age 14 initial findings- Child overweight and obesity

This briefing paper examines the weight status of today’s generation of adolescents taking part in the Millennium Cohort Study.

Download
Briefing paper

MCS Age 14 initial findings- What influences vocabulary

Download
Infographic

MCS Age 14 initial findings - Links between cultural factors and higher vocabulary scores for teenagers

Download
News

One in four girls is depressed at age 14, new study reveals

29 September 2017 New research using the Millennium Cohort Study shows a quarter of girls (24%) and one in 10 boys (9%) are depressed at age 14.
Briefing paper

MCS Age 14 initial findings - Mental ill-health among children of the new century

This briefing paper summarises the prevalence of mental health problems among children taking part in the Millennium Cohort Study.

Download

Featured scientific publications

Fitzsimons E, Jackman J, Kyprianides A, Villadsen A (2018)
Determinants of risky behaviour in adolescence: evidence from the UK
London: Centre for Longitudinal Studies
Read the full paper
Platt L, Parsons S. (2017)
Is the future female? Educational and occupational aspirations of teenage boys and girls in the UK
CLS working paper 2017/7. London: Centre for Longitudinal Studies
Read the full paper
Fitzsimons E, Pongiglione B. (2017)
Prevalence and trends in overweight and obesity in childhood and adolescence
CLS working paper 2017/16. London: Centre for Longitudinal Studies
Read the full paper
Sullivan A, Moulton V, Fitzsimons E. (2017)
The intergenerational transmission of vocabulary
CLS working paper 2017/14. London: Centre for Longitudinal Studies
Read the full paper

Relevant studies

Contact us

Centre for Longitudinal Studies
UCL Institute of Education

20 Bedford Way
London WC1H 0AL

Email: clsfeedback@ucl.ac.uk