Independent report

Promoting public engagement with longitudinal research

A report to the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) on promoting public engagement with longitudinal research.

ESRC, Warwick Institute for Employment Research


Promoting public engagement with longitudinal research (PDF)

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To address important questions such as how the wellbeing and life chances of people interact with their social and economic welfare, population researchers gather evidence from a wide variety of data sources.

The richest forms of these data are longitudinal surveys, information about individuals linked through time, often based upon samples drawn from official administrative databases. Such surveys rely upon the voluntary cooperation of those selected to participate and their continued willingness to engage with successive enquiries. If members of any group of participants, defined say by age, gender or ethnic background, are less willing to participate than others, these important sources of research information lose representativeness.

Key to the value of existing or new longitudinal surveys is the motivation behind voluntary participation in such studies. This, in turn, is driven by the existence of a general understanding of the societal good arising from personal involvement in longitudinal surveys.

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