Program at a glance 2021

Growing Up in Digital Europe / EuroCohort: developing a comparative longitudinal survey of child well-being in Europe

Session Organiser Professor Gary Pollock (Manchester Metropolitan University)
TimeFriday 9 July, 16:45 - 18:00

GUIDE/EuroCohort will be Europe’s first comparative birth cohort survey, an important source of high quality longitudinal statistical evidence to support the development of social policies which will enhance the wellbeing of children, young people and their families across Europe for many years to come. Using an accelerated design, including a sample of new-born infants as well as a sample of school age children, GUIDE/EuroCohort will quickly build an impressive data archive for analysts. Both cohorts will be surveyed using a common questionnaire and data collection methodology at regular intervals until the age of 24 years. Preparatory work for GUIDE/EuroCohort has already begun and will continue from 2021 in a H2020 “Starting Communities” project which includes piloting elements. This session includes presentations on questionnaire content selection, involvement of children and young people, piloting protocols, sampling and a cost-benefit analysis.

Keywords: longitudinal, child wellbeing, accelerated cohort

Ex-ante Cost-Benefit Analysis for a Social Science Research Infrastructure: the Case of EuroCohort

Professor Giulio Ecchia (University of Bologna) - Presenting Author

The aim of this paper is to present the ex ante Cost-Benefit Analysis (CBA) for a Social Science Research Infrastructure (RI) named EuroCohort that is planned to provide, over the next 34 years, a longitudinal study of the wellbeing of children and young people across Europe. In recent years the use of CBA has been extended to RIs, with both the European Commission (2014) and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) (2019) publishing guidance on how to apply this type of analysis to RIs projects. Both of these focus on ex post estimates relating to capital intensive, physical investments. This is quite different in form to the aim of the study presented here, which is focused on the application of CBA technique to a proposed Europe-wide longitudinal survey on children and young adult’s well-being, which is an RI more labor, rather than capital, intensive and requires ex ante analysis.
Given the difficulties in quantifying the difference between the monetary value of the benefits generated by children and young people’s well-being policies both in the EuroCohort informed (with) scenario and in the non-EuroCohort informed (without), we will follow a break-even approach. In other terms, we will try to answer the following research question: assuming that data from this survey are used to affect changes in European countries government policies and programmes in this area, what improvement in the effectiveness of State expenditure on child and young people’s well-being would be necessary for this investment in order to be considered worthwhile? We show that a small improvement in the effectiveness of countries’ expenditure makes investment in Eurocohort economically worthwhile.

Piloting longitudinal cohort surveys: Best practices and challenges

Dr Toni Babarović (Ivo Pilar Institute of Social Sciences) - Presenting Author

Pilot studies are a valuable tool to pinpoint the areas in which the main study could fail and should be improved. This is especially important in comprehensive large-scale longitudinal studies where piloting is considered as prerequisite and necessity. Despite their noted importance pilot studies are still under-utilised in large scale studies and reporting of pilots is often partial and incomplete. There is a lot of confusion among researchers what are good practices and what to avoid in piloting. Because of that, we wanted to emphasize good piloting practices so that researchers utilise piloting as a tool in research more often and in the best way. We identified ten large longitudinal birth cohort studies to provide a comprehensive overview of best practices and challenges in piloting approaches. The focus was put on birth cohort studies that follow many individuals born at a particular time through the course of their lives because of their complexity and essential need for piloting multiple waves due to developmental changes of children over time.
Through our analyses, we identified regular occurrence of three types of pilots in such studies – pre-pilots, instruments pilots and dress rehearsals. All three types differ regarding sample size, sampling procedures, aim and desired outcomes. Thus, we recommend incorporating all three types in every wave before the main study. This is especially important in the first decade of the study where participants go through extensive developmental changes that require a lot of modifications in instruments, data collection methods etc.
There is a lot of variability regarding sample sizes from study to study, but one characteristic is consistent in all studies: pre-pilots always have relatively smaller sample size than instruments pilots, and instruments pilots have relatively smaller sample size than dress rehearsals. Also, pre-pilots and instruments pilots most often incorporate convenient sampling procedures, while dress rehearsals sampling procedure always matches the one that will be implemented in the main study. We found that few studies did merge the pilot study data with the main study data, however, we would recommend keeping pilot study participants and data separate from the main studies because the two differ in many characteristics. One serious challenge that needs to be addressed in future studies is a lack of longitudinal samples in pilots. Although it is more challenging, incorporating longitudinal samples would be beneficial because it enables calculation of attrition rates from wave to wave that can indicate potential attrition difficulties in the main study.
Also, there are no clear criteria based on which the researcher would conclude if the pilot was a success or failure. Thus, we recommend that before conducting the pilot, researchers state the desired objectives and outcomes of a pilot to properly evaluate its success. Finally, we urge researchers to report all pilot study information straightforwardly through the separate chapter in technical reports or user guides or even better, separate technical report. To have such information publicly available is a good way of identifying and implementing better piloting practices.

Children advisory groups: how to incorporate children’s voice in the early stages of the research process

Dr Jessica Ozan (Manchester Metropolitan University) - Presenting Author

GUIDE / EuroCohort is a ground-breaking survey in many ways. As the first pan-European longitudinal survey measuring child and youth well-being, it is developed with a focus on policy needs and priorities. It also pushing the boundaries of child participation through its use of children advisory groups, involving the prime stakeholders from the very early stages of its development. This paper argues that the establishment of children advisory groups can facilitate their involvement throughout the research process and guarantee their participation in structures holding power over research agendas that concern them. Something that is too often ignored in large scale surveys. Drawing on the work conducted to establish GUIDE / EuroCohort, this paper presents practical guidance on how to establish children advisory groups that is grounded in an epistemological position balancing policy priorities, scientific rigour, and children’s voices.

Foresight as a tool for designing robust questionnaires for longitudinal surveys

Ms Aleksandra Szymczyk (Manchester Metropolitan University) - Presenting Author

As the rate of change in the world and the degree of uncertainty has amplified immeasurably over recent times, there has been an increased interest to develop forward facing insights that can help us address emerging complex challenges. The future of children and young people in Europe will be shaped by current developments and policy decisions. It is therefore crucial when undertaking longitudinal survey research, that we strive to identify the drivers and forces that may have an impact on child and youth wellbeing in the future.
GUIDE (Growing Up in Digital Europe: EuroCohort) will be Europe’s first comparative birth cohort survey: a Research Infrastructure that will be an important source of high quality longitudinal statistical evidence to support the development of social policies which will enhance the wellbeing of children, young people and their families across Europe for many years to come. This paper will explore the use of Foresight methods in the design of questionnaires for longitudinal surveys using the example of the horizon scanning exercise undertaken as part of the EuroCohort Development Project (ECDP).