ESRA 2019 Programme at a Glance


Surveying Children and Young People 5

Session Organisers Ms Kate Smith (Centre for Longitudinal Studies, UCL Institute of Education, London )
Dr Emily Gilbert (Centre for Longitudinal Studies, UCL Institute of Education, London )
TimeFriday 19th July, 09:00 - 10:30
Room D18

Many large-scale surveys successfully collect a variety of distinct types of data from children and young people (up to the age of 25). However, there is relatively little methodological evidence in this area. Much of the literature relating to children and young people’s participation in research focuses on small-scale qualitative studies and tends to concentrate on ethical issues relating to the rights of children and young people in research. This session will cover the challenges and experiences of including children and young people in surveys as they move from childhood to adulthood, and related survey design issues. A major challenge when interviewing teenagers is that while children’s participation in surveys is often mediated by and involves their parents, teenagers and young people make autonomous decisions, bringing challenges particularly in terms of engagement. The session aims to explore a variety of methodological issues around surveying young people. Submissions are particularly welcomed on:
- designing questionnaires for children and young people, including question testing methods
- collecting data on sensitive topics from young people, including methods for ensuring privacy and encouraging accurate reporting
- collecting different types of data from children and young people including physical measurements and cognitive assessments
- using different methods of data collection, including the use of innovative technology such as the web and mobile phones
- inclusivity in data collection methods, including facilitating the participation of children and young people with lower literacy levels
- assessing the reliability and validity of children and young people’s self-reports
- preventing non-response by engaging young people in research, including designing survey materials to appeal to young people and using new technology and digital media for participant engagement
- the challenges of retaining young people’s contact and interest in surveys over time
- ethical issues in involving children and young people in surveys, including gaining informed consent and protecting young people’s rights and well-being

Keywords: Children, young people, surveys

Methodological Considerations When Surveying 17 to 19-Year Olds in the Mental Health of Children and Young People Survey, 2017, England

Mrs Dhriti Mandalia (NatCen Social Research) - Presenting Author
Ms Franziska Marcheselli (NatCen Social Research )
Mrs Katharine Sadler (NatCen Social Research )

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Researching young people’s mental health using traditional methods (e.g. face-to-face interviewing) in a climate of declining response and increased mobility among 17-19 year olds is becoming more and more challenging. The 2017 Survey for Mental Health of Children and Young People in England is designed to provide high quality representative data on the prevalence of mental health disorders among 2 to 19-year olds in England.

The survey design involved a stratified random probability sample of young people living in private residential households in England and registered with a GP being invited to take part in a face-to-face Computer Assisted Personal Interview, which included a Computer Assisted Self Interview. The inclusion of 17 to 19-year olds presented a number of survey design challenges:

a) how to ensure the achieved sample included enough respondents in this age group;
b) how to gain access to young people living away from home/students;
c) how to encourage their participation in the survey;
d) how to collect information from young people and/or their parents about this sensitive topic.

These challenges and the strategies adopted to address them are discussed. We reflect on the success of these strategies and on the lessons learnt for future surveys targeting young people.

The Mental health of children and young people report is due to be published on the 22nd November 2018


Subjective Well-Being from 10 to 16 Years of Age: Main Results from a 5-Year Longitudinal Study.

Professor Ferran Casas (Universitat de Girona) - Presenting Author
Professor Mònica González-Carrasco (Univresitat de Girona)

Why subjective well-being (SWB) displays decreasing-with-age scores in late childhood and early adolescence in most countries is still an unresolved question, despite its importance for understanding its evolution through the lifespan. Most evidence related to this tendency is based on cross-sectional studies. The objective of the study here presented is to analyse data from a 5-year longitudinal study, including measures on positive and negative affect and on the cognitive dimension of SWB. Because different results have been previously found when using different cognitive psychometric scales, an overall life satisfaction single-item scale and two multiple-item scales – a context-free and a domain-based – have been used.

Nine cohorts of Spanish children, according to their year of birth, were administered a questionnaire during 5 years. Data collections started with five cohorts, but because of the increasing number of children that couldn’t be followed-up any more, from the third year on new cohorts were added to the data collection. Data from 1,696 children was obtained. N=755 boys/girls responded 2 consecutive years, N=539 did it 3, N= 213 did it 4 and N=189 did it 5, respectively. Cross-lagged structural equation modelling analyses have been developed.

All psychometric instruments used confirm a decreasing-with-age tendency. However, the path of this trend is dissimilar for the different cohorts, and different profiles in the evolution of SWB are identified at the individual level. The said tendency appears to be a much more complex phenomenon than expected. Our results show that different profiles appear in the evolution of SWB in these age groups, and not all of them are constantly decreasing. Important implications for theory, future research and practice derive from our results, this including the importance of expanding longitudinal research to different sociocultural contexts.


The Challenges of Conducting Youth Surveys in the Gulf Region: The Case of UAE MEY

Dr Tatiana Karabchuk (UAE University) - Presenting Author

The paper discusses the methodological issues of running the longitudinal survey of youth in the United Arab Emirates as an example of surveys in the Gulf region. The Monitoring of Emirati Youth: Socio-Economic Characteristics and Values is a unique source of information on millennial generation of current Emirati citizens. It is an annual panel survey of about 1600 sample size. The survey focuses on happiness and life satisfaction in relation to work, family and values, and uses the outcomes for the relevant social/public policy programs in UAE. The current paper presents the research design of the study and discloses the methodology under the context of a rather closed traditional society. The research questions cover three areas of studies:
1) the transfer from university/school to the job and career development: what positions the youth take, what problems they face, how education affects their first job choice and future career;
2) values and beliefs, that are changing fast nowadays and their effects on personal achievements and their socio-economic status;
3) marriages, family values, family formation, fertility, family problems, and divorces.
Finally, the project is seeking to answer – how much the mentioned three areas affect the subjective well-being of Emiratis Youth? What should be changed in society for the better to have healthier and happier Youth?


The Decreasing-with-Age Subjective Well-Being Tendency in Adolescence: New Data from a Longitudinal Study

Professor Mònica González-Carrasco (Universitat de Girona) - Presenting Author
Professor Ferran Casas (Univresitat de Girona)

During the last decade a number of scientific publications have provided data from different countries pointing out that subjective well-being (SWB) constantly decreases along adolescence. Different theoretical explanations have already been proposed, although no agreement seems to have been reached (Holte et al., 2013). The age-interval of this decrease is still unclear. No longitudinal study seems to have been developed up to now intending to contribute with more specific information of this decreasing-with-age tendency.

This paper will present a brief review of cross-sectional results on this topic, followed by results from the Children’s Worlds international survey in 15 countries, and last but not least, the results of a two-year longitudinal study including 4 cohorts of primary and secondary Spanish students aged 9 to 16 (N=354) using several psychometric scales on children’s SWB.

From our data analysis, the decrease seems to be significant from 10 years of age on in most countries. The shape of the decreasing tendency does not appear to be uniform for all the studied population and suggests different decreasing-profiles, some of them gender-related. However, at the population level, the mean is significantly decreasing along the studied period, both taking as indicator the overall life satisfaction, or different sets of life domains as proposed in diverse psychometric scales.

These findings pose important challenges to the most frequently used theoretical models to explain life satisfaction along the life-span, demonstrating once again that taking children and adolescents as informants on their own lives is repeatedly offering unexpected research results (Casas, 2011) and challenging adults’ stereotypes and believes on children’s evaluations of their well-being.