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European Cohort Development Project

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - ECDP (European Cohort Development Project)

Reporting period: 2018-01-01 to 2019-12-31

What is the issue?
A life-course approach to measuring child wellbeing is important for evidence-based policy making using the highest quality data. Existing longitudinal surveys are nationally specific and not comparable. ECDP has initiated an input harmonised comparative birth cohort survey.
Why is it important?
Child wellbeing is linked to SDGs addressing health, poverty, hunger, education and gender equality. Tackling these goals requires robust evidence.
What were the objectives?
To develop the survey research design (sample criteria, questionnaire and data fieldwork procedures) and the business case (a cost-benefit exercise focussing on better policy making) for an input harmonised international comparative longitudinal survey of child wellbeing.
ECDP was a Design Study which created the specification and business case for a European Research Infrastructure that will provide, over the next 25 years, comparative longitudinal survey data on child and young adult well-being. The infrastructure developed by ECDP will subsequently coordinate the first Europe wide cohort survey, which we name EuroCohort. There is at present no equivalent data source available to scientists to comparatively analyse the well-being of children as they grow up and therefore to develop policies to improve their well-being.
The aim of developing the infrastructure for EuroCohort was realised within ECDP through the following three objectives:
1.Building support from key political policy makers with a brief which covers child well-being as well as national funding agencies tasked with infrastructural spending on science and survey data collection
2.Develop a scientifically excellent research design
3.Establish a robust operational framework that will ensure the logistic integrity of EuroCohort.
The culmination of ECDP has been in the creation of an infrastructural platform with a commitment from key stakeholders across Europe and from which the next stages in finalising EuroCohort can begin.

Main results
WP2: Concepts, measures and analysis requirements In this work package, we identified currently relevant policy fields of child and youth well-being and linked them to measurement instruments.
WP3: The Business Case: Costs, Cost- benefit analysis and case studies
Obtained realistic estimates for the construction of, and ongoing annual costs, for each EU member states to undertake EuroCohort using information about the sample size, frequency of data collection and staff costs.
WP4: Political and financial support
The main outcomes from the policy mapping and networking were that:
-Research interest has been increased, i.e. the academic community supports the idea of a longitudinal survey on children’ and young people’s well-being.
-Political support has been secured through letters of support available in many cases (Ministries and government bodies) and most of the policy makers seem to understand and acknowledge the necessity of a EuroCohort.
WP6: Engagement with children, young people, and families
The EuroCohort project emphasizes the importance of a child-centred approach and posits that survey measures, format, and ways of implementation should be developmentally valid and appropriate for child and youth as survey participants. Furthermore, when results from the survey become available, children and young people (CYP) should be key stakeholders in their interpretation and use.
WP7: Ethics and Privacy
The EuroCohort Ethical Protocol highlights the legal requirements contained in the EU Regulation for Data Protection (GDPR), as well as to add guidelines that will serve the consortium research community as an ethical framework, namely with what concerns the longitudinal nature of the project.
WP8: EuroCohort Survey Design
The significant result achieved by WP8 is to have developed a comprehensive set of procedures and protocols that will enable the collection and dissemination of EuroCohort data to the highest standards, and to have documented these procedures and protocols in a series of deliverables and working papers that will enable those working on EuroCohort in the future to deliver the project efficiently and effectively.
WP9: Pilot Survey Requirements
The piloting should bring critical information about the pertinence, viability and obstacles of both EuroCohort’s contents and logistical issues. The valuable potential of the piloting stems from the fact that the proposed piloting is exhaustive.
Dissemination
• 5 academic publications and 4 working papers published https://www.eurocohort.eu/academic-publications/ https://www.eurocohort.eu/working-papers/
• Written and distributed 5 policy briefs (https://www.eurocohort.eu/policy-briefs)
• Written and distributed 4 briefing papers (https://www.eurocohort.eu/briefings)
• Successful Twitter account @EuroCohort
• Active web site https://www.eurocohort.eu/home/
• YouTube account containing 17 project videos https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCsSAheaWN1FdYk2Hi3TnOFw
Beyond the State-Of-The-Art
ECDP initiated the community of researchers and organisations that will drive forwards the coordinated development of comparative birth cohort panel survey research in Europe. This infrastructural community will promote the harmonisation of and improve access to international cohort panel survey data in the study of children and young people as they grow up. A common survey methodology has been established including a common approach to sampling and fieldwork. A credible plan for an accelerated cohort survey starting with an age 8 cohort and two years later initiating a birth cohort has been planned. Three input harmonised questionnaires have been drafted and are ready for field testing. These are the initial instruments for Cohort 1, wave 1 (parent), as well as Cohort 2 wave 1 (child and parent). The content plan for these questionnaires have been informed by an innovative foresight planning exercise. ECDP initiated an innovative child centric infrastructure, which includes a Child and Youth Advisory Group, producing a systematic instrument to ensure EuroCohort is effectively a child-centred approach study, at all levels and stages of the research.

Impact
Cost-benefit analysis
The CBA was showcased at a UNIBO organised a workshop in Bologna in October 3rd and 4th 2019 and at the European conference of the Society of Benefit-Cost Analysis in Toulouse, November 2019.

Network building
The ECDP project has raised the profile of EuroCohort among high level scientific child rights and political circles:

Stakeholder engagement
ECDP has brought together a wide range of national and international stakeholders. National, European and international level policy-makers, funding bodies NGOs and academics who currently are or who might in the future be involved in implementing policies and programmes to measure child well-being

Child-centric practices
Children and young people were engaged in ECDP project by innovative and direct means: through the CYPAG structures and workshops as well as story-telling sessions via community reporting method which confirm the best practice on how to engage children and young people in the research as captured by literature review.

Research design and instruments
The proposed research design structure and content of the questionnaires have raised international interest and have initiated high level debates in regard to the current and future survey practices.