What makes Child of the New Century so important?

Child of the New Century (CNC) is one of the birth cohort studies giving politicians, teachers, doctors, nurses, social workers and others information to improve services and policies to help people in the UK today.

It is one of four studies that the Centre for Longitudinal Studies (CLS) runs and is one of the largest studies following your generation – born at the turn of the century. The other cohort studies that CLS run follow people born in 1958, 1970 and 1989/1990 – so we are able to compare across the generations. This means we can compare what life is like as a teenager now, to how it was back in the 70s and 80s.

Findings from the birth cohort studies, including CNC, influence public services and policy. Our studies have helped politicians make decisions which affect everyone, for example policies on pregnancy, education and work. And you can see the studies referred to in topics that are often in the news now, such as grammar schools, mental health and physical activity.

What is so special about the birth cohort studies?

At CLS we try to listen to everyone across the UK. In CNC we asked a large number of families from all across the UK to take part. This means our findings represent the whole of the UK and not just certain groups in society. This also means we can look at issues that relate to smaller groups, such as those in poverty, or those who struggle with reading and writing.

And because we’re following people from birth, this means we have a large amount of information about each stage in people’s lives. With this information we can link things that happen in childhood to what happens later on, something which is really important for researchers and policymakers.

Because so many different topics are covered in our studies, researchers from lots of different subject areas use our findings. As well as asking you and your family lots of questions, we have also asked CNC members to wear an activity monitor, provide saliva samples and even give us one of their milk teeth – and we make similar requests in our other studies. By collecting this information as well as the questions we ask you, we can find out how our lifestyles are linked to our biology.

Now more than ever is the time to collect accurate and useful information about people’s lives and explore the links between social issues, policy and outcomes.

This news piece was adapted from The IOE London Blog, written by Professor Alissa Goodman and Professor Alice Sullivan.