The European Cohort Development Project (ECDP) is a Design Study which will create the specification and business case for a European Research Infrastructure that will provide, over the next 25 years, comparative longitudinal survey data on child and young adult well-being. The infrastructure developed by ECDP will subsequently coordinate the first Europe wide cohort survey, which we name EuroCohort. The project is funded by the European Commission under Horizon2020 and is led by PERU under the leadership of Professor Gary Pollock.

It builds on a previous project run by PERU, the Measuring Youth Wellbeing (MYWEB) project funded by the European Commission under FP7.

What is the need?

There is, at present, no single data source to support comparative analysis of the wellbeing of children and young people across Europe as they grow up. Some European countries have regularly invested in cohort survey and benefited from analyses drawn from longitudinal studies, such as the British Cohort Studies (1946, 1958, 1970, 2000), the French Longitudinal Study of Children, the Danish Longitudinal Survey of Children, Growing up in Ireland, or the National Education Panel on Early Education and Schooling in Germany. These surveys remain an important source of evidence which supports policy development. The merits of collecting national longitudinal data are widely recognised, and yet the current studies are not easily comparable as they contain different questions and are conducted at different times and on different age groups.

Europe’s first comparative birth cohort survey, a Research Infrastructure (RI) called EuroCohort, will be an important source of evidence in developing social policies for children, young people and families across Europe for many years to come. EuroCohort will be an accelerated cohort survey including a sample of new born babies as well as a sample of school age children. With two cohorts taking place in parallel it will be possible to make cohort comparisons early in the life of the survey.

What are we doing?

ECDP project has a tripartite focus on securing political support, operational robustness and scientific excellence for EuroCohort. We recognise that each of these imperatives are necessary to the development of a successful research infrastructure, as scientific excellence alone is not enough.

The project has three objectives:

  • Build support from key national policy makers across Europe who have a brief which covers child well-being as well as national funding agencies tasked with infrastructural spending on science and survey data
  • Develop a scientifically excellent research design for a pan-European, longitudinal survey of children and young people on the topic of wellbeing
  • Establish a robust operational framework that will ensure the logistic integrity of EuroCohort

What will be the outcomes?

Across Europe there are Research Infrastructures in most academic disciplines. Within the EU these are organised within the European Strategy Forum on Research Infrastructures (ESFRI). Our aim is that EuroCohort will be included on the 2021 ESFRI roadmap and receive EU funding to support the coordination of the survey.

What are the timescales?

This 24 month project started in January 2018 and finished at the end of 2019.

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