The Campaign welcomes funding for New Birth Cohort Study

March 1, 2011

Tony Crook

The Campaign for Social Science warmly welcomes today’s announcement of government backing for a new birth cohort study.

The study will produce a wealth of new data about the lives and social conditions of British children being born in the second decade of the 21st century. Close cooperation between social researchers and medical specialists will give the work added depth and usefulness.

David Willetts, the science minister, has worked hard to steer support for the study through Whitehall. Government departments from education to work and pensions will find the results of huge benefit in understanding society and economy and framing policy.

The Campaign looks forward to social scientists, in the UK and overseas, analyzing the cohort study data and enriching our sense of who we are.
The new study will enable social scientists to probe the influence of parenting on later life, the effects of school choices on development or to work out how best to protect cognitive development and guard against the harmful effects of poverty and exclusion. It is the first study of its kind that will begin data collection before birth.

More, much more, the study will provide vital information about how the current economic and environmental climate influences the way our society works.

The government’s decision is an impressive vote of confidence in the Economic and Social Research Council, which — with the Medical Research Council — will supervise the research contract and disseminate results.

Professor Tony Crook, chair of the Campaign for Social Science, said ‘I congratulate the minister for winning support for this vital exercise. The Millennium birth cohort study is already producing a treasure trove of findings, for example about the impact of policies put in place in the last decade. Without it a great gap would have opened in our long-term understanding of social dynamics. Now the new birth cohort study will allow social scientists to capture changes in the social and economic conditions of Britain over the next years.’