Millennium Cohort Study

Child of the New Century

The Millennium Cohort Study (MCS) follows the lives of around 19,000 children born in the UK in 2000-01.

A renewed interest in child wellbeing in the late 1990s in the UK led to a new and distinctive child cohort study, after a gap of 30 years. The MCS was designed as a multidisciplinary study that could capture the influence of early family context on child development and outcomes throughout childhood, into adolescence and subsequently through adulthood.

Today the MCS covers a diversity of topics including health, parenting, family income and social capital. It is specially designed to help improve our understanding of smaller groups in the UK — namely those living in disadvantage, ethnic minorities, and children from Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Evidence from the MCS has impacted policy and practice, for example by demonstrating the benefits of breastfeeding, the effects of poverty on cognitive development, and contributing to the national evaluation of Sure Start.

Management and funding

The MCS is funded by the Economic and Social Research Council and a consortium of government departments. It is managed by the Centre for Longitudinal Studies.

Accessing the data

The majority of MCS survey data can be accessed by bona fide researchers through the UK Data Service at the University of Essex. Anyone wishing to access the data will need to register with the UK Data Service before downloading. Some datasets are only available via Special Licence, or via the UK Data Service Secure Lab. Access arrangements comply with ESRC Research Data Policy.

Research metadata, including basic frequencies, is available using NESSTAR at the UK Data Service. The Centre for Longitudinal Studies (CLS) website provides copies of the questionnaires and documentation used in the study. The CLS data dictionary offers further metadata including variables and frequencies.