It is critical that the wellbeing of society is systematically tracked by indicators that not only give an accurate picture of human life today but also provide a window into the future for all of us.
This book presents impactful findings from international longitudinal studies that respond to the United Nations’ Agenda 2030 commitment to “leave no-one behind”. Contributors explore a wide range and complexity of pressing global issues, with emphasis given to excluded and vulnerable populations and gender inequality.
Importantly, it sets out actionable strategies for policymakers and practitioners to help strengthen the global Sustainable Development Goals framework, accelerate their implementation and improve the construction of effective public policy.
This volume has presented examples of world class longitudinal research with policy and programme relevance. They join a growing number of researchers working with longitudinal data. In the last ten years, the number of publications citing use of longitudinal data has grown by 75%, shown in Figure 9.1. This growth presents an important resource for policy makers and practitioners towards meeting their sustainable development targets.
Despite the innovations presented, the potential relevance and impact, it is no doubt that longitudinal researchers today have experienced challenges in their dedication to this type of work.
To further unpack the landscape of longitudinal research, a systematic analysis of 122 longitudinal studies was conducted (Banati, 2019). A comprehensive search of the published literature was undertaken in Google Scholar, Pubmed and Scopus using the following search terms: birth cohort, longitudinal, child, life course and life stage. The study also drew from the largest open source database of longitudinal studies available – the Low and Middle Income Longitudinal Population Study Directory developed by the Institute for Fiscal Studies (2018). Inclusion criteria were (1) a minimum of two rounds of data collection; (2) first round conducted after 1970; (3) capturing information and responding to questions relevant for children. The studies are located in high-, middle- and low-income countries. Without a doubt, this was not an exhaustive process and may not have captured all available studies. Despite this, to our knowledge, we have identified and analysed the largest collection of longitudinal studies among children to date.
In 2015, electrifying optimism surrounded the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as world leaders agreed to a 15-year deal to advance economic, social and environmental development globally, with a focus on those most left behind. The successor to the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), the SDGs laid out in ‘The Road to Dignity by 2030: Ending Poverty, Transforming All Lives and Protecting the Planet’ (United Nations, 2015a) describes 17 ambitious goals, seen in Figure 0.1, that include: ending poverty and ensuring well-being for all ages, inclusive and equitable education, gender equality and empowerment, decent work and reducing inequality within and among countries (United Nations, 2015b). The global indicator framework, developed by the Inter-Agency and Expert Group on SDG Indicators (IAEG-SDGs), was agreed to at the 47th session of the UN Statistical Commission held in March 2016 and contains 230 indicators and 169 targets (United Nations, 2016).
At its heart, sustainable development is about families and communities living in peace and prosperity, their children growing up safe and healthy, and transitioning to productive adulthood. Chambers and Conway (1991, p 6) were perhaps the first to define sustainable livelihoods ‘which can cope with and recover from stress and shocks, maintain or enhance its capabilities and assets, and provide sustainable livelihood opportunities for the next generation; and which contributesnet benefits to their livelihoods at the local and global levels and in the short and long term’. Global goals such as the SDGs and the MDGs have undoubtedly driven sustainable development progress.