The National Child Development Study follows the lives of an initial 17,415 people born in Great Britain in a single week in March 1958. At birth 98% of all babies born in the target week were enrolled. The study was further augmented in childhood with immigrants into GB. The study is the second oldest of the UK’s national birth cohort studies, which follow people from birth and across the whole of their lives. It forms one of four national longitudinal studies at the Centre for Longitudinal Studies. NCDS has collected information via surveys and medical examinations on the health, physical, educational and social development, and economic circumstances of the cohort members, and the study contains a rich genetic resource. The full sample was surveyed at ages: 0, 7, 11, 16, 23, 33, 42, 44/5, 46, 50 and 55. The age 61 survey will enter the field in 2020. To date, at least 2948 scientific publications have used NCDS data, which can be searched here. And the study is fully documented here. NCDS has been used for research across many disciplines, including epidemiology, economics, psychology, sociology, demography, and social statistics, and genetic epidemiology. It is in the top four of datasets ever used in Genome-Wide Association Studies. The data are used in policy documents as well as in peer reviewed journal publications. The study’s major contributions include perinatal and early child development; education policy; social mobility; health and gender inequalities; mental health and well-being; family formation, partnerships and childbearing; values and attitudes, social participation; life course epidemiology. Key scientific questions supported include: long-term effects of early (and -earlier) life circumstances; factors that confer resilience to negative early experience; returns to investment in human capital; intergenerational transmission of advantage and disadvantage; mapping of developmental trajectories; the changing experiences of different generations. Methodological advantages include national representation; in depth coverage of key life course stages and developmental processes; casual identification including using rich early life controls, longitudinal, and quasi-experimental methods; and its intergenerational dimension. Current methodological innovations include data collection via web and administrative record linkages; new epigenetic analyses from immortalised cell lines; harmonisation; and discoverability.
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