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ESRC advised to keep spending on lifelong studies

A long-awaited strategic review has recommended that the Economic and Social Research Council invests even more into costly, long-term studies that follow people throughout their lives.

The review panel, whose report was published on 8 May, was asked to look at the scientific needs for longitudinal study data and how the ESRC could meet those needs in innovative ways. It was commissioned in September 2016 and carried out by a panel chaired by Pamela Davis-Kean, a psychology professor at the University of Michigan in the United States.

Longitudinal studies follow cohorts of people over short and long periods of time and collect data on their beliefs, attitudes, economic circumstances and behaviours. According to the ESRC, this data helps researchers understand how these factors affect people’s life outcomes. They are particularly valuable when linked with other data, such as health records.

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