The Millennium Cohort Study: the making of a multi-purpose resource for social science and policy




Millennium Cohort Study, lifecourse inequalities, Sure Start, neighbourhood effects, UK regions


This paper gives an account of the origins, objectives and structure of the Millennium Cohort Study (MCS) – some 19,000 individuals born in the UK in 2000-2001 – and its use in a wide range of research on many aspects of their lives in childhood years. We highlight some of the mass of output on the first five surveys to age 11 in 2012. Topics discussed are social inequalities in child development; comparisons with other cohorts; areas not well covered by previous national cohorts: season of birth, fathers, ethnicity and childcare; parental behaviour; intergenerational links; social ecology and differences between and within UK countries. We also discuss the challenges faced by the National Evaluation of Sure Start (NESS) in drawing controls from the MCS. As the cohort marches to its seventh survey in 2018, and beyond, the potential for research across life course domains will only continue to grow.

Author Biographies

Heather Joshi, Centre for Longitudinal Studies UCL Institute of Education

Professor Emerita

Centre for Longitudinal Studies


Emla Fitzsimons, UCL Institute of Education

Professor of Economics
Centre for Longitudinal Studies
Department of Social Sciences
UCL Institute of Education