This chapter uses evidence from the Parenting across Cultures (PAC) project to illustrate ways in which longitudinal data can help achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs; https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/). The chapter begins by providing an overview of the research questions that have guided PAC as well as a description of the participants, procedures and measures. Next, empirical findings from PAC are summarized to illustrate implications for six specific SDGs. Then the chapter describes how longitudinal data offer advantages over cross-sectional data in operationalizing SDG targets and implementing the SDGs. Finally, limitations, future research directions and conclusions are provided.
PAC was developed in response to concerns that understanding of parenting and child development was biased by the predominant focus in the literature on studying families in Western, educated, industrialized, rich and democratic (WEIRD) societies and that findings in such countries may not generalize well to more diverse populations around the world (Henrich et al, 2010). In an analysis of the sample characteristics in the most influential journals in six subdisciplines of psychology from 2003 to 2007, 96% of research participants were from Western industrialized countries, and 68% were from the United States alone (Arnett, 2008), which means that 96% of research participants in these psychological studies were from countries with only 12% of the world’s population (Henrich et al, 2010). When basic science research is limited to WEIRD countries, knowledge of human development becomes defined by a set of experiences that may not be widely shared in different cultural contexts, so studying parenting and child development in a wide range of diverse cultural contexts is important to understand development more fully.