History of the Millennium Cohort Study

A renewed interest in child wellbeing in the late 1990s in the UK provided the context for the development of a new and distinctive child cohort study, after a gap of 30 years. The Millennium Cohort Study (MCS) was developed as a multidisciplinary survey which could capture the influence of early family context on child development and outcomes throughout childhood, into adolescence and subsequently through adulthood. The study's field of enquiry covers such diverse topics as parenting; childcare; school choice; child behaviour and cognitive development; child and parental health; parents’ employment and education; income and poverty; housing, neighbourhood and residential mobility; and social capital and ethnicity.

MCS is fourth in a long line of cohort studies in the UK but is distinguished from them in a number of ways related to the design of the sample. Its carefully constructed sample (19,519 children in 19,244 families selected through Child Benefit Records) was designed to provide a proper representation of the total population. However, certain sub-groups were intentionally over-sampled, in particular those living in disadvantaged circumstances, children from minority ethnic backgrounds (in England), and youngsters growing up in the smaller countries of the UK, namely Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. As the MCS children were born between September 2000 and January 2002 the study is also well-placed to identify any season-of-birth effect on children’s development.

For more information on the history and evolution of the MCS please see Hansen 2012.

Tell us about your research

We ask researchers to contact us whenever they publish research using the cohort data. With up-to-date records, we can help other researchers avoid duplication and also demonstrate to funders how useful the data is to the research community.

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