Five minutes with… Tarek Mostafa

Next up in our ‘Five minutes with…’ series of posts, is Tarek Mostafa, a Research Officer here at Child of the New Century.


How long have you been working at the Centre for Longitudinal Studies (CLS)?

I have been working at CLS for over four years, since September 2012. That’s the year we asked the children of the new century to take part in the Age 11 Survey.


How did you come to work on the Child of the New Century (CNC)?

I wanted to get involved in the CNC because I was interested in the findings coming from the study and how the study is managed. I’m particularly interested in the mental health of children and young people, as well as family living standards, so the opportunity to work on the study was exciting. I’m also interested in how studies like CNC are run – such as what and how information is collected and used by researchers.


What are you currently working on?

I am looking at how many study members took part in the Age 14 Survey in addition to using some of the information collected to create measures of income and poverty.

I also work on the other three cohort studies that we run at CLS, of people born in 1958, 1970 and 1989-90. At the moment, I’m looking at the reasons why some people in the 1958 cohort may not have taken part or answered particular questions the last time we surveyed them. It’s important that we get as many study members as possible to take part in each survey, so when some people choose not to, we want to learn what might encourage them to take part again in the future.


What is the most surprising thing you’ve learned about since you started working on the study?

One of the most exciting findings I’ve learnt about was the evidence that children who have experienced difficult life events show signs of being more resilient. It seems possible that the old saying might be true – “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger”!


What is your favourite part of your job?

I love having the opportunity to look at all the information we’ve collected in CNC and using it to try out new ideas for research.

One of our favourite questions from the study is ‘what would you like to do when you grow up’? We asked this to cohort members when they were 7 years old. If you’d been asked that when you were growing up, what would you have said?

When I was five I wanted to be an astronaut, then at seven I wanted to become a doctor, but I ended up becoming an economist instead.


What is your favourite book, film, or TV show?

TV show: Russell Howard’s Good News.

Film: Transformers (No… that’s a joke!). I like Tarantino’s movies in general.

Book: The Rock of Tanios (novel by the Lebanese-French writer Amin Maalouf).


What is your favourite place to be?

Right now? On a beach in the sun.