Working papers

Here you can search our series of working papers, dating back to 1983. These papers use data from our four cohort studies and cover a wide range of topics, from social inequalities and mobility, to physical health, education and cognitive development. Other papers in the series seek to improve the practice of longitudinal research. At the present time, we are only able to accept papers if at least one author is a member of the CLS research team. Some of the working papers below will subsequently have been published in peer-reviewed journals.

For more information about our working papers series, please email us at clsworkingpapers@ucl.ac.uk.

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Browse working papers by type, study, theme etc. Select one or more filters to refine your search and click the search button below.

Document type

Life Stage

Topics

National Child Development Study

Next Steps

1970 British Cohort Study

Millennium Cohort Study

Defining and Identifying Only Children – CLS Working Paper 2022/3

Despite increasing interest in the circumstances and outcomes of only children and increasing family complexity, the conceptualisation of only children has received limited scholarly attention. We raise issues involved in defining and identifying only children in social survey data, reflecting on the decisions researchers need to take. Illustrating the discussion with descriptive analyses of four British large-scale birth cohorts, we show it is possible to identify groups of individuals who correspond to different definitions of only children.

Author: Jenny Chanfreau and Alice Goisis
Date published: 27 April 2022
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Working papers

Effects of a time-limited push-to-web incentive in a mixed-mode longitudinal study of young adults – CLS Working Paper 2022/2

An early bird push-to-web incentive experiment was conducted in the eighth follow-up of the Next Steps cohort study, which follows the lives of a nationally representative sample of around 16,000 people in England born in 1989-90. In this working paper, we investigate the impact of the early bird web-push incentive on response rates – after three weeks and by the end of fieldwork – and assess whether it had a differential impact on subgroups hence affecting the sample composition.

Author: Lisa Calderwood, Darina Peycheva and Erica Wong
Date published: 21 February 2022
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Working papers

Fast Food and Childhood Obesity: Evidence from Great Britain – CLS working paper 2022/1

We study whether proximity to fast food restaurants affects childhood obesity. We use the UK Millennium Cohort Study – a nationally representative, longitudinal study – linked with highly granular geocoded food outlet data to measure the availability of fast foods around children’s homes and schools from ages 7 to 14. We find, for certain children, in particular those with maternal education below degree level and those with lower self-regulation, that living near fast food restaurants is associated with increased Body Mass Index.

Author: Nicolás Libuy, David Church, George B. Ploubidis and Emla Fitzsimons
Date published: 17 January 2022
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Working papers

Prevalence and predictors of weapon carrying and use and other offences at age 17: Evidence from the UK Millennium Cohort Study – CLS working paper 2021/8

Using rich and nationally representative longitudinal data from the UK Millennium Cohort Study about young people, their families, and wider social contexts, the current report aims to provide an understanding of the antecedents and development of offending behaviours. The focus is on self-reported offending when cohort members were age 17, with information on influential factors drawn from throughout childhood.

Author: Aase Villadsen and Emla Fitzsimons
Date published: 30 June 2021
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Working papers

Quantifying the digitisation of everyday lives: Measurement opportunities for large-scale surveys – CLS working paper 2021/7

There is no one way to collect and analyse information about digital activity and behaviour, with methodologies varying from interviews and self-reported questionnaires, to diary studies and website analytics. Self-reports of digital behaviour, though widely used, are subject to measurement error, particularly recall problems. In this report, we aim to identify robust, new measures of online activity including direct objective measures.

Author: Alex Papadopoulos
Date published: 26 March 2021
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Working papers

Using social media in social research: Opportunities for enhancing large-scale surveys – CLS working paper 2021/6

The aim of this scoping review is to identify research methodologies or tools that could
potentially be used to enhance large-scale surveys, and in particular the CLS cohort studies. This review addresses the following research questions: How is social media data used in social research? What are the opportunities and challenges of using social media data? What are the possibilities for enhancing large-scale surveys by linking to social media data?

Author: Madalina Hanc
Date published: 26 March 2021
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Working papers

Measuring cognition in population-based cohort studies – CLS working paper 2021/5

This scoping review has been conducted with the aim of finding opportunities for the longitudinal data on human cognition collected from the cohorts at the Centre of Longitudinal Studies UCL to be enhanced by:
1) novel data collection tools e.g. wearables, data from smartphones;
2) novel linkages e.g. consumer data, employer-held data, social media data; and
3) any other methods or measures with scientific utility.

Author: Alex Vasilichi
Date published: 26 March 2021
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Working papers

Diet – Opportunities for Data Collection – CLS working paper 2021/4

The aim of this report is to identify opportunities for future data collection in the CLS cohorts to be enhanced by novel methods and linkages, specifically those relating to diet and expenditure. Such novel data collection may come from new tools and technologies (i.e wearables and smartphones), or through new data linkages (i.e consumer data or social media).

Author: Charis Bridger Staatz and David Bann
Date published: 26 March 2021
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Working papers

Measuring physical activity and cardiovascular health in population-based cohort studies – CLS working paper 2021/3

Implicating physical activity in biomedical and health research relies upon accurate measurement. Ultimately, a tool for assessing physical activity should be versatile, easy to interpret, and accurate in estimating intensity, volume, duration, and frequency of activity (Ainsworth et al., 2015). We conducted a non-systematic rapid review of the literature in this area to identify existing and novel methods of measuring physical activity in large-scale studies. The following sections will outline some commonly used methods for measuring physical activity in population-based cohort studies (e.g. accelerometers), along with some more novel approaches (e.g. combined monitors).

Author: Aaron Kandola and David Bann
Date published: 26 March 2021
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Working papers

Opportunities for data collection and linkage: mental health – CLS working paper 2021/2

This report aims to investigate the opportunity and feasibility of the use of technologies to measure mental health in Centre of Longitudinal Studies (CLS) cohorts, and the opportunity and feasibility of linking CLS cohorts to nationally held records on mental health service use.

Author: Jessica Rees and Praveetha Patalay
Date published: 26 March 2021
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Working papers

Having a sibling is like a treasure? Care for ageing parents by adult children with and without siblings – CLS working paper 2021/1

While adult children with siblings can share caring for older parents, adult only children face this responsibility alone. Yet, despite the extensive literature on informal caregiving more generally, research on only children’s parent-care is limited. Given increased longevity and reliance on informal caregiving, as well as an increase in one-child families, there is a need to further investigate only children’s caregiving.  This paper investigates whether and how adult only children’s parent-care differs from those with siblings, how sibling composition intersects with gender and how it relates to wellbeing. Using data from three large scale British birth cohorts we analyse parent-care at different ages: 38 and 42 (born 1970), 50 and 55 (born 1958), and 63 (born 1946). Results show that only children are more likely to provide parent-care, with differences greater at later ages. Provision is gendered, and the sibling group composition matters for involvement. While caring is related to wellbeing, we found no evidence that this differs between only children and those with siblings.

Author: Jenny Chanfreau and Alice Goisis
Date published: 8 March 2021
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Working papers

The impact of using the web in a mixed mode follow-up of a longitudinal birth cohort study: Evidence from the National Child Development Study – CLS working paper 2020/9

A sequential mixed mode data collection, online-to-telephone, was introduced into the National Child Development Study for the first time at the study’s age 55 sweep in 2013. The study included a small experiment, whereby a randomised subset of study members was allocated to a single mode, telephone-only interview, in order to test for the presence of mode effects on participation and measurement. Relative to telephone-only, the offer of the web increased overall participation rates by 5.0 percentage points (82.8% vs. 77.8%, 95% confidence interval 2.7% to 7.3%). Differences attributable to mode of interview were detected in levels of item non-response and response values for a limited number of questions.

Author: Alissa Goodman, Matt Brown, Richard J. Silverwood, Joseph W. Sakshaug, Lisa Calderwood, Joel Williams and George B. Ploubidis
Date published: 19 October 2020
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