Finding out how today’s teens tick

The Millennium Cohort Study (MCS) will be conducting an age 14 survey after receiving funding of £3.5 million from the Economic and Social Research Council.

Scheduled for 2015, the survey acts as the next phase of the birth cohort study. The MCS follows the lives of 19,000 children born in the UK in 2000-01. Five surveys of cohort members have been carried out so far at the ages of nine months, three, five, seven and eleven years.

Welcoming the announcement, Minister for Universities and Science David Willetts said: “This £3.5 million investment will build on the UK’s proud history of longitudinal studies. It will give us new insights into young people’s lives at a vital stage of their development, which will in turn help inform social policy.”

The study has been tracking the Millennium children through their early childhood years and plans to follow them into adulthood. It collects information on the children’s siblings and parents. MCS’s field of enquiry covers such diverse topics as parenting; childcare; school choice; child behaviour and cognitive development; child and parental health; parents’ employment and education; income and poverty; housing, neighbourhood and residential mobility; and social capital and ethnicity.

The age 14 survey will be the first study to look at them as adolescents. The survey will extend our understanding of risk behaviours, educational choices and aspirations, peer and family relationships and their consequences in later life.

Professor Lucinda Platt, Director of the Millennium Cohort Study said: “At the Centre for Longitudinal Studies we value the ESRC’s recognition of the significance of the age 14 sweep of the MCS. It will greatly help understanding of the all-important period of early adolescence from 11 to 14 as well as revealing whether what children do at this transition stage can reverse earlier patterns and go on to shape their adult life. We are very excited about continuing to work with the MCS cohort as they grow up.”

Chief Executive, Paul Boyle said: “The ESRC are pleased to be involved with the next phase of this exciting study. It will be exciting to see how the children are developing as they enter the next phase of their lives and beginning to make those all important decisions that will influence their journey into adulthood.”