The economic and social value of health from childhood to later life

UCL Centre for Longitudinal Studies

  • Led by University College London’s (UCL) Centre for Longitudinal Studies
  • Aims to generate new knowledge and expand understanding of the impact that a person’s physical and mental health has on their economic and social outcomes over their life course and across generations
  • Will consider a range of indicators of health status, analyse the interrelationships between them and social and economic outcomes, and examine the implications for socio-economic and gender inequalities
  • The project will run for 24 months from July 2018.

This research project, led by UCL’s Centre for Longitudinal Studies, will address the impact of physical and mental health on economic and social outcomes throughout people’s life course.

There is a complex relationship between economic and social factors, and people’s health. While much is known about the impact of socio-economic factors on health, there are gaps in knowledge about the impact of an individual’s health on their economic and social status.

Through cross-cohort comparisons, this project aims to find out whether the relationships between people’s health and their social outcomes have changed between the generations, given major changes in factors that influence people’s health, both positively and negatively. These include factors such as increases in the prevalence of depression and obesity, a reduction in smoking levels, increased inequalities in income and wealth, changed gender roles, the changing demographic composition of the UK, and major differences in the policy climate over time.

The outcomes to be examined include educational development and attainment (cognitive scores, qualifications); economic outcomes (employment status, earnings, social class); and socio-emotional outcomes (childhood behaviour, quality of life, social support, marital/partnership status).

The project will use the UK’s series of nationally representative longitudinal datasets, including the Medical Research Council’s National Survey of Health and Development, the National Child Development Study, the 1970 British Cohort Study, Next Steps, and the Millennium Cohort Study.

Using an innovative modelling approach and sensitivity analysis, indicators of health status from childhood to mid-life will be used to predict subsequent outcomes, and outcomes will be assessed from early childhood to later life (55–69 years of age).

The project will provide new information on the causal links between people’s physical and mental health, and their educational, occupational and social outcomes from childhood through to later life.

It will help inform policy-making and future population based interventions to promote healthy development and healthy ageing, and encourage joined-up thinking between policymakers in different settings.

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Contact details

For more information on this project, please email Alice Sullivan, Professor of Sociology at the UCL Centre for Longitudinal Studies.

Further reading

Quick guide

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