International perspective on longitudinal studies

Growing Up in New Zealand Director Associate Professor Susan Morton presented the international perspective when she spoke at the launch of the book “Cherishing All the Children Equally? Children in Ireland 100 Years on from the Easter Rising” in Dublin this week.

The book, edited by James Williams, Elizabeth Nixon, Emer Smyth and Dorothy Watson was published by The Economic and Social Research Institute, Ireland. It uses data from the Growing Up in Ireland study to provide a comprehensive overview of factors influencing child wellbeing.

The launch also marked ten years of the longitudinal study Growing Up in Ireland which has followed nearly 20,000 children their families and teachers for the last decade.

Dr Morton was invited to speak as the international expert at the event alongside Dr Katherine Zappone, Ireland’s Minister for Children and Youth Affairs. In her address, Dr Morton drew parallels with other international studies of child development including Growing Up in New Zealand.

She observed that the information collected in cohort studies, which tracks the same individuals over time and engages with them directly, allows analyses to be undertaken to understand why we see associations between risk factors and outcomes. The conclusions reached are therefore not based on theory or speculation alone but on careful examination of the detailed and rich multidisciplinary information collected directly from the children and families themselves. This information about why associations exist can help us better understand why some policies reach those they are intended to assist whereas others fail to do so. They can also help us understand why some children miss out on opportunities to engage fully in society and why we see inequalities in outcomes between different groups of children.

Cherishing all the children equally? [The Economic and Social Research Institute media release]

Growing Up in Ireland