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COVID-19: a defining moment for longitudinal research?

Blog Editor, IOE Digital15 May 2020

Rob Davies, republished from the CLOSER blog.

It is clear the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic for individuals, families and society will be deep and long-lasting. However, we still don’t fully understand the impact of the virus, nationally or regionally, or how it will entrench existing challenges such as inequalities or mental health.

Data and evidence from longitudinal studies will be vital to the UK’s response to COVID-19. Harnessing the power of existing longitudinal studies will help to understand the immediate and long-term impacts on individuals, families, households and society, providing valuable information for research and policy throughout and after the pandemic. Crucially, due to the unique nature of longitudinal studies, it will also be possible to track the longer-term consequences and impacts for years to come.

Rapid response with the future in mind

The response by the longitudinal research community to the COVID-19 pandemic has (more…)

Educating young children at home: key lessons from research

Blog Editor, IOE Digital1 April 2020

Clare Brooks, Eleanor Kitto and Carole Scott.

The closure of schools and early years settings to all except for the children of key workers will have a profound impact on all parents, particularly those with young children. 

Without adequate data as to how schools and settings are responding, and in particular how they are planning to support families with children who are now mainly kept at home, it is nearly impossible to say what the impact will be on children and their achievement. 

However, the findings of the large-scale and highly detailed Effective Pre-School, Primary and Secondary Education (EPPSE) project do provide some valuable insights into the importance of early experiences which suggest what the impact on young children could (more…)

Paying for a private sixth form education: how much difference does it make?

Blog Editor, IOE Digital6 November 2019

Francis Green and Morag Henderson.

Britain’s private schools have again entered the public eye, with increasing concern over social mobility and social justice. There have been pressures for reform from several quarters. The most extreme was a September call for their ‘abolition’ from the annual conference of Labour, Britain’s main opposition party.

But whether one’s preference is for abolition, radical reform or no reform at all, confusion continues over what private schools actually do.

The question is: does private schooling in Britain actually improve children’s academic performance, beyond what would happen if they attended state schools, once account is taken of the characteristics of the children who attend them?

(more…)

Inequalities in education and society: the home, the school and the power of reading

Blog Editor, IOE Digital22 August 2019

This blog is based on Professor Alice Sullivan’s inaugural professorial lecture, presented at the UCL Institute of Education on 18 June 2019

Much of my work concerns the way that advantage and disadvantage are passed down from one generation to the next. So, for example, why do middle class kids do better in education than working class kids? And, why is there a link between social class origins in childhood and socioeconomic destinations in adulthood?

Sociologists sometimes call this relationship the OED triangle, where O stands for socioeconomic origins, E stands for Education and D stands for destinations in adult life. Social reproduction occurs when there is a close relationship between origins and destinations, and social mobility when that relationship is broken by a move up or down the social ladder.

During the course of my career I’ve worked on a set of interrelated questions regarding educational and social inequalities, and these are the questions I will address here:

(more…)

Do people change their political ideology when they lose their job? If anything, they move to the left

Blog Editor, IOE Digital16 August 2019

Dingeman Wiertz and Toni Rodon.

What happens to citizens’ political preferences when they are confronted with economic hardship? This longstanding question has recently attracted renewed attention in the wake of the Great Recession.

Nonetheless, many matters remain unresolved. For example, which types of preferences are affected? Are we mainly talking about views on concrete policy issues and politicians’ approval ratings, or are more deep-seated convictions such as political ideology also influenced? And are all people equally affected by experiences of economic hardship, or do such events elicit a bigger response from some groups than from others?

In a recently published study, we take these questions to the data. We (more…)

How well-off and healthy were my parents when I was little? Am I a hard-working high flier, or an advantaged one?

Blog Editor, IOE Digital12 August 2019

Gabriella Melis and Ingrid Schoon.

Our research looked at how inequalities amongst families in the 1970s in England have been passed on onto their offspring when they were adults themselves. We call the parent’s generation G1, and the offspring generation, born in 1970, G2.

Drawing on data from the British Cohort Study 1970 (BCS70), we considered several measures of socio-economic and health-related risk factors for both the parents (G1) and their children (G2) ­at age 42. The data covered around 11,000 individuals and their families over a 42-year timespan, which makes our sample a very robust one for the study of transmission of inequality from one generation to the next.

We found that individuals who grew up in more disadvantaged families are significantly more likely to end up in disadvantaged socio-economic and health conditions by age 42 when compared to those from relatively more privileged families. This is true, in particular, for those from families where the parents were physically ill or depressed. There is however also a considerable degree of social mobility, for some (more…)

Mothers are not to blame for our childhood obesity crisis

Blog Editor, IOE Digital25 March 2019

Emla Fitzsimons

The number of obese children and teenagers across the world has increased tenfold over the past four decades and it is estimated that about one in four 14-year-olds in the UK is either overweight or obese.

It is no exaggeration to say that childhood obesity represents one of the biggest public health challenges facing our society with far-reaching immediate and long-term consequences.

At the same time, a much more positive social change has taken place. Women are better represented in the workplace than ever before — creating a more diverse labour force and increasing financial resources for many families. However, this also puts additional (more…)

Social media and screen-time: To ban or not to ban – that’s probably not the question

Blog Editor, IOE Digital14 February 2019

Rob Davies, CLOSER.
Informed by evidence from academics, royal societies, health officials, social media companies, young people, teachers, government ministers, research funders and more, the Science and Technology Committee report on the impact of social media and screen-use on young people’s health covers a range of issues: from risks, harms and benefits, regulations and guidance, to resources for schools and teachers.
It makes a number of specific recommendations to government, many of which are relevant to research: (more…)

The long roots of childhood, and how they explain economic inequalities across the whole of life

Blog Editor, IOE Digital4 September 2018

Alissa Goodman.
In my inaugural lecture earlier this summer I asked the question, what are the root causes of the economic inequalities in our society, and why have these been so difficult to budge?
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This is a question that I’ve been asking ever since, early in my own research career, I was part of a team of economists demonstrating for the first time in historical context the huge rise in income inequality which had taken place over the 1980s in Britain. This change had transformed us from a relatively low-inequality country to a high one in the space of around 10 years. Fast-forward to today, we remain just as, if not more, unequal.
Some of the most important answers to my question come from the national birth cohort studies that we run at the Centre for Longitudinal Studies (CLS), (more…)

What have longitudinal studies ever done for us? A beginner's guide is here

Blog Editor, IOE Digital18 July 2018

Alison Park.
Earlier this year the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) launched its Longitudinal Studies Strategic Review – commissioned to assess the value and future needs of longitudinal research in the UK.
The review clearly recognised the importance of the UK’s portfolio of longitudinal studies, highlighting some of the key insights that have been realised through research using their data. It also rightly asked questions about how we can best promote the use of longitudinal data, and what training and capacity building can best help ensure that these valuable resources get used as much as possible.
The review recognised that, although individual studies can (and do) do a great deal to help their data users, there is considerable value in resources that apply to a range of longitudinal studies rather than just one.
This is an area we have been working hard on at CLOSER, a centre at the IOE that brings together eight world-leading longitudinal studies. We could see that, although there is existing provision for more experienced students and researchers, there is little available for those who are new to the studies. So we have focused our efforts on materials aimed at this group – which includes students early in their studies or researchers outside academia.

These discussions led us to develop CLOSER’s Learning Hub. The Hub provides (more…)