About Growing Up in Ireland

Growing Up in Ireland is the national longitudinal study of children and youth in Ireland.  It started in 2006 and follows two cohorts of children aged 9 years (Cohort ’98, formerly referred to as the Child Cohort) and 9 months (Cohort ’08, formerly referred to as the Infant Cohort).  Currently the members of Cohort ’98 are around 23 years old and Cohort ’08 are 13 years old.

The study is funded by the Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth (DCEDIY), with a contribution in Phase 2 from The Atlantic Philanthropies, and is managed by the DCEDIY in association with the Central Statistics Office.  It is being carried out by a consortium of researchers led by the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI) and Trinity College Dublin (TCD). Phase 1 of funding covered ages 9 and 13 years of Cohort ’98 and ages 9 months to 5 years of Cohort ’08.  Phase 2 (2015-2019) covers ages 7/8 and 9 years for Cohort ’08 and ages 17/18 and 20 years for Cohort ’98. There has been an extension to Phase 2 which will include a fifth wave of Cohort ’08 at age 13 years in 2021.

The Principal Investigator (PI) at the start of Phase 2 until July 2018 was Professor James Williams (ESRI). On James’ retirement, Professor Dorothy Watson and Professor Emer Smyth took over as joint PIs. Professor Watson retired in March 2021, and Professor Smyth is the current PI. She is supported by a project management team of seven leading academics from the ESRI and TCD as well as a research team and fieldwork team based in the ESRI. A wide range of experts provide support and advice to the Study as part of the Scientific Advisory Group.

Aims and objectives

The primary aim of the Growing Up in Ireland study is to inform Government policy in relation to children, young people and families.

The founding objectives for the study were:

  1. to describe the lives of children in Ireland in the relevant age categories, to establish what is typical and normal as well as what is atypical and problematic
  2. to chart the development of children over time, to examine the progress and well-being of children at critical periods from birth to adulthood
  3. to identify the key factors that, independently of others, most help or hinder children’s development
  4. to establish the effects of early childhood experiences on later life
  5. to map dimensions of variation in children’s lives
  6. to identify the persistent adverse effects that lead to social disadvantage and exclusion, educational difficulties, ill health, and deprivation
  7. to obtain children’s views and opinions on their lives
  8. to provide a bank of data on the whole child
  9. to provide evidence for the creation of effective and responsive policies and services for children and families

About Cohort ’98 (formerly the Child Cohort)

This cohort started in 2008 with 8,500 children aged 9 years.  Information was collected from parents, teachers, Principals and the children themselves.  Additional perspectives were collected by post from non-resident parents and regular carers of the Study Child.  This cohort was revisited at age 13 years,  17/18 years and  at age 20.  The most recent contact was in a special COVID survey in December 2020. Further information on Cohort ’98 can be found via the Information for Researchers page.

About Cohort ’08 (formerly the Infant Cohort)

Data collection for Cohort ’08 started in 2008 with over 11,000 9-month-olds and their families.  Follow-up waves were completed when the child was aged 3 years, 5 years, 7/8 years (postal) and at 9 years.  The cohort will shortly be interviewed at age 13 years. The most recent contact was the special COVID survey in December 2020.  Depending on the particular wave, information has been collected from parents, carers, non-resident parents, teachers and principals. Further information on Cohort ’08 can be found via the Information for Researchers page.

Child Safeguarding Statement

Growing Up in Ireland‘s child safeguarding statement is available to download using the following link:

Growing Up in Ireland Child Safeguarding Statement March 2021.

Governance and Consultation Processes

More about the governance of Growing Up in Ireland and its consultation processes are available on this page.

Using Growing Up in Ireland Data for Research

Further details on accessing Growing Up in Ireland data for research are available here. All information provided as part of Growing Up in Ireland are treated as strictly confidential. The study is carried out under the Statistics Act (1993) – this makes it an offence to use the data for anything other than research purposes or to attempt to identify individuals. Researchers seeking to use Growing Up in Ireland anonymised data must agree to these conditions and abide by any other conditions, such as relating to data security, as set out by the Central Statistics Office, DCEDIY, ISSDA, the GUI Study Team or related bodies.

Team Members

Principal Investigator:

Professor Emer Smyth, Research Professor (ESRI)

Study Team Management Group:

Professor Richard Layte (TCD/ESRI)

Professor Emer Smyth (ESRI)

Dr Elizabeth Nixon (TCD)

Dr Anne Nolan (ESRI/TCD)

Dr Lina Zgaga (TCD)

Professor Trevor Spratt (TCD)

Professor Helen Russell (ESRI)

Dr Sean Lyons (ESRI)

Research Team:

Dr Aisling Murray (Senior Research Officer)

Dr Eoin McNamara (Research Analyst)

Dr Desmond O’Mahony (Research Analyst)

Adam Nolan (Research Assistant)

Survey and Data Manager:

Dr Amanda Quail (Senior Research Officer)

Database Team:

Eoin Keogh (Programmer/Analyst)

Bernadette Ryan (Research Analyst)

Dr Lisa Kelly (Research Assistant)

Ruth Gallagher (Data Assistant)

Fieldwork Team:

Aoife Murphy (Fieldwork Manager)

Elizabeth Burke (Fieldwork Supervisor)

Solange Daini (Executive Officer)

Fionnuala Waters (Fieldwork Supervisor)

Project Support Administrator:

Caroline Goodwin

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