CLS conference 2015: the value of cohort studies for social investigation ShareThis


On 16-17 March, CLS hosted the hugely successful 2015 Cohort Studies Research Conference at the Mary Ward House, London. The conference showcased outstanding longitudinal research from the UK and abroad, demonstrating the significant contribution cohort studies make to the academic community in enabling key social issues such as child development, health, labour markets, social mobility, and education to be scientifically addressed.

The conference also demonstrated a range of methodological approaches using longitudinal data – including mixed mode, administrative data consent rates, and the collection of time use diaries. Eminent economist Professor James P. Smith gave an engaging key note speech and plenary sessions were led by Prof. Kathleen Kiernan, Prof. Paul Gregg, Prof. Yvonne Kelly and Prof. John Hobcraft.

The conference included over 70 presentations of academic research and 150 people attending including 40 doctoral students, all contributing to a lively discussion. A student poster competition was judged by a panel of CLS senior staff, who awarded a prize for outstanding student work.

Keynote speaker: Professor James P. Smith (RAND)

Other confirmed speakers:

Professor Paul Gregg (University of Bath)
Professor Kathleen Kiernan (University of York)
Professor Yvonne Kelly (University College London)
Professor John Hobcraft (University of York)


  • Dr George Ploubidis photo


    Dr George Ploubidis,

    Reader in Population Health and Statistics; Chief Statistician at the Centre for Longitudinal Studies

  • Professor Yvonne Kelly photo

    Professor Yvonne Kelly,

    Professor of Lifecourse Epidemiology, UCL

    Professor Kelly leads work on health and development during childhood and adolescence. Of particular interest are the causes and consequences of social and ethnic inequalities; the ways in which familial and broader social contextual influences combine to shape health and development; the uptake and retention of health related behaviours during late childhood and adolescence; the links between early life exposures, e.g. drinking and smoking in pregnancy, birthweight and infant feeding and later health and development.

    To do this work she makes use of longitudinal datasets including the Millennium Cohort Study, the UK Household Longitudinal Study, the 1958 and 1970 Birth Cohort Studies.

  • Professor Paul Gregg photo

    Professor Paul Gregg,

    Professor of Economic and Social Policy, and Director of the Centre for Analysis and Social Policy at the University of Bath

    Paul has been appointed to the government Social Mobility and Child Poverty Commission, and in 2011 Paul was a member of a CBI steering group on Getting the UK Working, and a commission on youth unemployment run by AVECO and headed by David Miliband.

    He completed a review of Personalised Support and Conditionality in the Welfare System for the UK Department of Work and Pensions in 2009.

    He was formally a member of the Council of Economic Advisors at HM Treasury 1997-2006, where he worked on unemployment, welfare reform and child poverty.

    He recently joined the Governing Board of the New UK Birth Cohort Study.

    Paul is a programme director at the Centre for Market and Public Organisation covering Families, Children and Welfare.

  • Professor Kathleen Kiernan photo

    Professor Kathleen Kiernan,

    Professor of Social Policy and Demography at the University of York and ESRC Strategic Advisor on Data Resources (Longitudinal Studies)

    Professor Kiernan joined the University of York as Professor of Social Policy and Demography in October 2004. She was previously Professor of Social Policy and Demography at the London School of Economics and Co-Director of the ESRC Centre for Analysis of Social Exclusion, at LSE.

    Prior to LSE she was Research Director at the Family Policy Studies Centre in London; Deputy Director of the Social Statistics Research Unit at City University; a Senior Research Fellow at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, and she began her career with the MRC on the National Survey of Heath and Development.

    Much of her research uses longitudinal data from the British Birth Cohort Studies including the 1946, 1958, 1970 and the Millennium Cohort Study and more recently comparative data from a range of European countries and the USA.

  • Professor John Hobcraft photo

    Professor John Hobcraft,

    Professor of Social Policy and Demography/ESRC Strategic Advisor of Data Resources, University of York

    I am a demographer with broad interests in the social, psychological, health and biological sciences. I have worked extensively on the demography of both developing and developed countries and on demographic methods. This research has encompassed substantial work on fertility and reproduction, infant and child mortality, and partnership behaviour and on the consequences of these for policy and population change.

    I have a strong interest in sexual and reproductive health and rights and in the empowerment of women, having been a lead negotiator for the UK at the 1994 UN International Conference on Population and Development in Cairo and at the five-year follow-up in New York in 1999.

    I also spent around a decade researching intergenerational and life-course pathways to adult social exclusion using data from the 1958 and 1970 British birth cohort studies. This research has drawn out the importance of considering a wide range of childhood and early adult antecedents of a wide range of adult disadvantages and has also paid particular attention to ‘gendered pathways’. More recently, I am exploring pathways to educational, cognitive and behavioural performance for children using the Millennium Cohort Study.

  • Professor James P. Smith (RAND) photo

    Professor James P. Smith (RAND),

    Chair in Labour Markets and Demographic Studies at the RAND Corporation

    James P. Smith holds the Distinguished Chair in Labour Markets and Demographic Studies at the RAND Corporation. He has studied immigration, the economics of aging, black-white wages and employment, the effects of economic development on labour markets, wealth accumulation and savings behaviour, the interrelation of health and economic status, The Effects of Early Life Conditions on Adult Economic Outcomes, and the Determinants of Gender Differences in Cognition. In 2011 he co-shared the Cozzarelli Prize for best article in social and behavioural science in 2011- Proceedings of the National Academy of Science-for The Long Shadow Cast by Childhood Physical and Mental Problems on Adult Life. Smith chaired the Panel on Demographic and Economic Impacts of Immigration (1995–1997), the Committee on Population, and the Committee on National Statistics, National Academy of Sciences. He has been an invited speaker before the President's Initiative on Race in Phoenix, the Federal Reserve Board of Los Angeles, and the Prime Minister and members of Parliament of New Zealand, among many others. Smith has twice received the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Merit Award, the most distinguished honour NIH grants to a researcher. In 2013, Smith received an honorary degree of Doctor of the University from the University of Stirling, Scotland; in 2011, he was elected to the Institute of Medicine; and in 2009, he received the Ulysses Medal from University College Dublin. Smith received his Ph.D. in economics from the University of Chicago.