Former director of the Millennium Cohort Study receives New Year honour

2 January 2015

Professor Heather Joshi, the founding director of the Millennium Cohort Study, has been awarded the CBE in the New Year honours list.

Professor Joshi, who is now Professor Emerita of Economic and Developmental Demography in Education at UCL Institute of Education, received the award for her contribution to longitudinal and women’s studies.

She was director of the IOE’s Centre for Longitudinal Studies, which manages three of Britain’s national birth cohort studies, from 2003 to 2010. She also directed the Millennium Cohort Study (MCS) from 2000 to 2011.

The MCS, which is funded by the Economic and Social Research Council and a consortium of government funders, is following the lives of more than 19,000 children born in the UK in 2000/1.

The study has pioneered innovative approaches to large-scale data collection from young children. It has also helped to shed new light on a wide range of important issues, such as the benefits of breastfeeding, the deleterious effects of family poverty, and the educational progress of children from different ethnic backgrounds.

Professor Joshi’s own research has been mainly concerned with gender, the family, the labour market and child development. She is regarded as an international authority on the impact of childbearing on women’s lives and the effect of women’s employment on children.

Her current areas of interest include children’s socio-emotional development, social mobility, residential mobility, and ‘neighbourhood effects’. She attempts to make international comparisons where possible.

Professor Joshi’s academic career began at Oxford University, where she was awarded a Congratulatory First in Politics, Philosophy and Economics in 1967. She worked as a government economic adviser before returning to academia in 1980. Prior to joining the staff of the IOE in 1998 she worked at City University London, Birkbeck College and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.

Although she officially retired in 2011 Professor Joshi continues to take part in research using the MCS.

She has also continued to foster collaboration and comparison between birth cohort studies around the world. She was the founder president of the international Society for Longitudinal and Lifecourse Studies and co-chaired the European Child Cohort Network until 2013.

Professor Joshi has also been a key adviser to child cohort studies in France, Germany and New Zealand, and has provided scientific advice to research programmes in a number of other countries in Europe and beyond.

A Fellow of the British Academy and an Academician of the Social Sciences, she was awarded an OBE in 2002 for services to women’s issues.

Professor Joshi said she was surprised and extremely pleased to receive this second honour. “For me the work of collecting and analyzing evidence on the unfolding lives of women, men and children is rewarding in itself. It has also been rewarding to pass information about the British experience to colleagues in other countries who have come later to the business of establishing birth cohorts.

“But it is gratifying not only to be recognised personally, but to have this further confirmation that longitudinal studies are seen as a growing national asset.

These studies have been built up through the work of a great many people – colleagues, collaborators and contractors – and the indispensable co-operation of members of the public who freely and repeatedly provide the information that the studies assemble.”

Professor Chris Husbands, director of the Institute of Education, said: “I am delighted that Heather Joshi’s leadership of longitudinal research and her own research have been recognised in this CBE. Her work, sustained over an extremely distinguished career, has shaped our understanding of the life course, directly influenced policy and practice, and has helped to make the UK an international leader in cohort studies research.”

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