• Led by University College London’s Centre for Longitudinal Studies.
  • This project aimed to generate new knowledge and enhance the 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.
  • The research considered a range of indicators of health status, analysing the interrelationships between them and social and economic outcomes, and examined the implications for socio-economic and gender inequalities.
  • The project work began in July 2018.

This research project, led by University College London (UCL)'s Centre for Longitudinal Studies, is working to address the lack of understanding on 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 continues to 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 innovative modelling approaches and sensitivity analysis, indicators of health status from childhood to mid-life will are being used to predict subsequent outcomes, and those outcomes will be assessed from early childhood to later life (55–69 years of age).

The project continues to 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.

Learn more

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The role of parental and child physical and mental health on behavioural and emotional adjustment in mid-childhood: a comparison of two generations of British children born 30 years apart

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