Mar 142012

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. 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 Centre for Longitudinal Studies in Ireland (CLSI)

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 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.

© 2012 CLSI Suffusion theme by Sayontan Sinha