Child of the New Century (CNC) has helped researchers understand how children’s development varies depending on the area they live in.

In the age 11 survey, 9 in 10 of you said you felt ‘safe’ or ‘very safe’ in your local area. Girls were slightly less likely than boys to feel ‘very safe’.

Is your behaviour related to the area you live in?

In the CNC surveys at ages 3, 5 and 7, parents were asked about different aspects of their child’s behaviour, including how well they got on with other children and whether they were hyperactive. They were also asked how often their child showed different feelings such as fear, anger or sadness.

Researchers have found that children’s behaviour and feelings vary depending on the type of area they live in. For example, one study revealed that green space can be beneficial for children growing up in cities.  Children with access to parks, gardens or playgrounds tend to get on better with others, feel happier, and be less hyperactive.

Is there a link between where you live and how much you weigh?

In the first CNC survey, mothers were asked about different aspects of their neighbourhood environment, such as whether their children could play safely nearby and whether there was any pollution, litter or vandalism. Researchers have also looked at information from other surveys about local crime and employment rates.

A study found that mothers living in neighbourhoods with high levels of pollution and crime, and with low employment rates, were more likely to be overweight or obese – although there are many other factors that affect weight too, including diet and exercise.

Moving home

Almost half of all families in CNC had moved home at least once by the age 5 survey and 1 in 3 moved between the age 5 and age 7 surveys. Most families who moved said they wanted to live in a better area or in a larger or better home. Almost 1 in 3 families who said they lived in a ‘very unsafe’ area in the age 5 survey had moved home by the age 7 survey. Just 1 in 5 families who felt that their neighbourhood was ‘fairly’ or ‘very safe’ moved between the age 5 and 7 surveys.

Researchers have found that CNC families who moved home by the age 3 survey had fewer children than those who stayed in the same place.  Mothers in families that moved also tended to be younger or single.


The role of urban neighbourhood green space in children’s emotional and behavioural resilience (2014) by Eirini Flouri, Emily Midouhas and Heather Joshi

Perceived and objective measures of the neighbourhood environment and overweight in preschool children and their mothers (2009) by Summer Sherburne Hawkins, Anna Pearce, Tim Cole, Catherine Law and the Millennium Cohort Study Child Health Group

Millennium Cohort Study Briefing: Neighbourhood and residential mobility Based on Chapter 7 of Children of the 21st century (Volume 2): The first five years by Sosthenes Ketende, John ‘Mac’ McDonald and Heather Joshi

The characteristics of mobile families with young children in England and the impact of their moves on neighbourhood inequalities in maternal and child health (2012) by Helena Tunstall, Baltica Cabieses and Richard Shaw