Centre for Longitudinal Studies in Ireland launched April 4th 2012 at the Science Gallery, Pearse Street, Dublin by President of Ireland, Michael D. Higgins.
Like many other developed countries, Ireland has invested heavily in recent years in the collection of social science data in the hope of answering important social and economic questions. Investment in longitudinal data collection was a crucial first step for Ireland in moving towards being able to study the process of social change in our society in an in-depth way. However, these data are only useful if researchers understand how to conceptualize time, change and development over the life course and can interrogate the data using the appropriate methodological tools. The relative absence of longitudinal data in Ireland in the past has meant that these skills are confined to a small group of researchers and if Ireland is to benefit from the major investments made, then it is essential that we extend these skills across the research community.
Similarly, policy makers need to be engaged with the research and to be informed of the questions that can be answered by longitudinal data. Such engagement will ensure that the policy makers have the evidence they need to draft policy and to inform practice in addressing the opportunities and challenges faced in Ireland today. The fact that these studies have taken place in a climate of economic change adds to their potential to support good policy making into the future.
The Centre for Longitudinal Studies in Ireland has been established:
• To increase awareness of the importance of longitudinal research in academic and policy research in Ireland.
• To further understanding in Ireland of the conceptual basis of longitudinal and life-course research.
• To facilitate the development of the capacity in Ireland to carry out longitudinal research using both qualitative and quantitative methodologies.
• To promote the best international standards and practices in longitudinal research in Ireland.
Investment in Longitudinal Data
Since 2007, two landmark studies have been initiated which will provide unprecedented levels of detail on the lives of Irish people. Growing Up in Ireland (GUI) is following close to 20,000 children from two cohorts of children (one from nine months and the second from nine years) whilst The Irish Longitudinal Study of Ageing (TILDA) is following over 8,000 individuals aged 50+. As well as these two ground-breaking projects, longitudinal data from smaller studies are also coming on stream. The unifying feature of all these surveys is the extent to which they are recording information on the same groups of respondents over their life course. Individually and together, these studies represent the largest social survey investment in the history of the state and will provide invaluable data for understanding social change and improving Irish public policy in the years to come.
The central objective of the CLSI is, therefore, to increase understanding of the importance of longitudinal research and to facilitate the development of the capacity in Ireland to carry out longitudinal research using both qualitative and quantitative methodologies.