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.

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Working papers

A rise in symmetrical families: Fact or fiction?- CLS working paper 2014/9

Vicky Cross examines the hypothesis that the employment gap between men and women has narrowed significantly in recent decades, leading to more ‘symmetrical’ families: ie where men and women’s roles are much more equal.

Using British longitudinal data collected during the first twelve years of the 21st century, the paper explores how the sharing of domestic duties and childcare responsibilities has changed among the same families between 2000 – 2012. Specifically, we address

  1. ? Are domestic tasks shared more when couples are age 30 or age 42? Have men taken on more responsibilities as they have got older?
  2. ? Do men and women agree that the tasks are shared equally or who has the main responsibility for them?
  3. ? What are the main socio-economic characteristics that increase joint responsibility of domestic tasks in the home?
  4.      Have men increasingly taken on a child-care role?

Keywords: BCS70, gender equality, domestic duties, child-care, social class.

Author: Vicky Cross
Date published: 27 November 2014
Working papers

Variation within Households in Consent to Link Survey Data to Administrative Records: Evidence from the UK Millennium Cohort Study- CLS working paper 2014/8

Tarek Mostafa examines respondents’ behaviour when consenting to link their own records and when consenting to link those of their children. The paper develops and tests a number of hypothesised mechanisms of consent, some of which were not explored in the past. The hypotheses cover: parental pride, privacy concerns, loyalty to the survey, pre-existing relations with the agency holding the data, and interviewer effects. The exercise uses data from the Millennium Cohort Study to analyse the correlates of consent in multiple domains (i.e. linkage of education, health and economic records). It relies on a multivariate probit approach to model the different consent outcomes, and uses fixed and random effects specifications to estimate the effects of interviewers.

The findings show that respondent’s behaviour vary depending on the consent domain (i.e. education, health, and economic records) and on the person for whom consent is sought (i.e. main respondent vs. cohort member). In particular, the cohort member’s cognitive skills and the main respondent’s privacy concerns have differential effects on consent. On the other hand, loyalty to the survey proxied by the longitudinal response history has a significant and strong impact on consent irrespective of the outcome. The findings also show that interviewers account for a large proportion of variations in consent even after controlling for the characteristics of the interviewer’s assignment area. In total, it is possible to conclude that the significant impact of some of the correlates will lead to sample bias which needs to be accounted for when working with linked survey and administrative data.

Keywords: Informed consent; data linkage; multivariate probit models; UK Millennium Cohort Study; sample bias.

Author: Tarek Mostafa
Date published: 20 November 2014
Working papers

Vocabulary from adolescence to middle-age- CLS working paper 2014/7

Alice Sullivan and Matt Brown exploit the rich cognitive measures taken during childhood and adolescence in the BCS70 cohort, including adult measures of literacy and numeracy. For the first time, the 2012 survey included a repeat measure in adulthood of a cognitive scale which had been used previously with the cohort in childhood – a vocabulary test first taken in 1986, when the cohort members were 16 years old. This paper asks how vocabulary scores changed between the ages of 16 and 42, taking account of early social background and childhood reading behaviour, but also examining the influence of educational and labour market attainment and reading for pleasure in mid-life. The authors find that both educational and occupational attainment, and reading habits in childhood and adulthood, are linked to vocabulary growth.

Keywords: 1970 cohort, cognitive skills, vocabulary, education, employment, reading, numeracy.


Author: Alice Sullivan and Matt Brown
Date published: 10 November 2014
Working papers

Non-cognitive skills: What are they and how can they be measured by the British cohort studies?- CLS working paper 2014/6

Heather Joshi undertakes a review of literature prepared as background to work on NCDS and BCS70 on social mobility. The first part reviews literature on the definition, sources and labour market rewards to non-cognitive (‘soft’) skills or personality traits. It is generally agreed that these factors play a role over and above cognitive skills, but through complex pathways. The second part of the paper reviews the ways in which the notion of non-cognitive skill has been operationalized by researchers using the British Cohort Studies, particularly NCDS and BCS70, as part of the study of the inter-generational transmission of social advantage.

Keywords: 1958 cohort, 1970 cohort, social mobility, intergenerational, non-cognitive skills, soft skills.


Author: Heather Joshi
Date published: 19 September 2014
Working papers

Research on health and health behaviours based on the 1970 British Cohort Study- CLS working paper 2014/5

This CLS working paper reviews research that uses information from the childhood waves of the 1970 British Cohort Study (birth to 16 years) as either health outcomes or as predictors of later health outcomes.

Author: Sam Parsons, Alice Sullivan and Matt Brown
Date published: 4 September 2014
Working papers

The art of asking questions about religion- CLS working paper 2014/4

Over the years, the 1970 British Cohort Study (BCS70) respondents have been asked a number of different questions about religion.

This CLS working paper investigates the way in which different questions wordings have produced large differences in the substantive responses. As well as comparing the 1970 cohort’s responses across different waves of the study, the study compares BCS70 responses to responses to the British Social Attitudes (BSA) survey and the Census.

Author: Alice Sullivan, David Voas and Matt Brown
Date published: 3 September 2014
Working papers

Training and accreditation of interviewers to carry out physical measurements on the UK Millennium Cohort- CLS working paper 2014/3

This CLS working paper describes our approach to developing an interviewer accreditation process for conducting physical measurements on the most recent wave of the Millennium Cohort Study (MCS), which took place at age 11 in 2012.

Key words: Longitudinal, interviewer training, accreditation, physical measurements, quality control, Millennium Cohort Study

Author: Nicki Rose, Rachel Williams, Lisa Calderwood and Kate Smith
Date published: 2 September 2014
Working papers

Handling attrition and non-response in the 1970 British Cohort Study- CLS working paper 2014/2

This CLS working paper studies the extent of attrition in the 1970 British Cohort Study (BCS70) and how it affects sample composition over time. It examines the determinants of response then construct inverse probability weights and uses a simulation study to illustrate the effectiveness of weights and imputations in dealing with unit non-response and item missingness respectively.

Key words: BCS70, attrition, unit non-response, item non-response, weights, imputation.

Author: Tarek Mostafa and Richard D. Wiggins
Date published: 1 June 2014
Working papers

Refining childhood social class measures in the 1958 British cohort study- CLS working paper 2014/1

The aim of this working paper is to set out an approach to classifying the childhood social class of members of the 1958 National Child Development Study. The specific focus is on the use of mother’s occupation and household tenure, in addition to father’s occupation, in order to create a more meaningful and robust three-category measure of social class that is likely to be of particular utility for those using the newly available qualitative materials now associated with the study.

The paper also provides a descriptive insight into the living conditions, during the 1960s, of children from different social classes. By drawing both on the quantitative data collected in 1969, and on retrospective accounts of childhood circumstances collected from cohort members in qualitative interviews in their early fifties, we aim to provide a picture of the diversity of experience of children from different social classes within the cohort.

Author: Jane Elliott and Jon Lawrence
Date published: 3 March 2014
Working papers

Consent to linkage to child health data in MCS- CLS working paper 2013/13

Peter Shepherd elucidates, particularly to those responsible for UK Health records, but also for users of the MCS data, that all reasonable efforts have been made to ensure that data will only be linked for children whose legal guardians have consented.

Author: Peter Shepherd
Date published: 2 December 2013
Working papers

How do children answer questions about frequencies and quantities?- CLS working paper 2013/12

This CLS working paper describes findings from two experiments undertaken to develop response categories to maximise data quality for a series of questions intended to be useable with 11 year old children. Using the Millennium Cohort Study (MCS), the paper aims to ascertain how to get the best quality estimates of frequencies of activity or quantities of consumption from children in response to potentially sensitive questions in a self-completion context.

Author: Kate Smith and Lucinda Platt
Date published: 1 December 2013
Working papers

Disability among young children – prevalence, heterogeneity and socio-economic disadvantage- CLS working paper 2013/11

This CLS working paper highlights the socio-economic disadvantage experienced by disabled young children in England. It uses the Millennium Cohort Study (MCS) to enhance understanding of what constitutes disability, showing the prevalence of disability among children using three different definitions: developmental delay (DD), long-standing limiting health conditions or illnesses (LSLI) and special education needs (SEN).

Author: Sam Parsons and Lucinda Platt
Date published: 1 November 2013
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