ICLS research uses the latest techniques in social science and health research to address some of the most pressing social and health problems facing us today.
Our work looks at how the social circumstances in which people live translate into poor health and unfavourable social outcomes across all stages of the life course - 'how life gets under the skin'. We make use of data gathered regularly on the same people across their lives – longitudinal studies which follow thousands of people, collecting information about their health, education, work, family and life experiences.
We examine a range of health problems to see what influences them and how they develop through life. ICLS's work aims to improve understanding about the stepping stones from childhood towards a healthy and productive working life and the maintenance of health and wellbeing in the later years.
We work closely with individuals, groups, charities, organisations and businesses that are interested in developing evidence-based support and interventions to ensure our research makes a difference to people's lives.
Our current research programme has two main themes:
Child and adolescent health and wellbeing
In its first 15 years, ICLS produced a valuable and influential body of research on the first decade of children's lives. That body of evidence shows just how important family and socio-economic circumstances are when it comes to getting a child off to a good start and their capacity to thrive at home, at school and in wider society.
The research shows the importance of regular bedtimes and reading to a child, demonstrates the links between poverty and childhood obesity, explains what aspects of a young person's life are associated with drinking alcohol at an early age and has provided evidence for legislative change prohibiting the physical punishment of children in Scotland and Wales.
Adolescence provides a golden opportunity for identifying potential tipping points that might inform interventions aimed at improving health and mitigate inequalities between those who are thriving and those who are not.
ICLS research continues to improve our understanding of the factors influencing young people’s mental health including use of digital media and exposure to early life adversities, the development of intimate relatinships, their health behaviours, risk of obesity, and educational attainments.
Current and recently funded projects led by ICLS members include:
- Physical punishment and child outcomes in the UK
- The health, social and education inequalities faced by young carers
- Early childhood adversity and mental health
- Adult outcomes of people who spent time in care as children
Work and care
ICLS's highly policy relevant research on work and care has highlighted the interaction between poor working and housing conditions and ill-health and leaving work prematurely. Findings have played a key role in challenging myths about 'any job being better than none'.
ICLS research has shown that women are increasingly adopting what were traditionally 'male' employment patterns such as full-time employment, rather than men reducing hours or taking time off work to accommodate parenthood.
We have shown that worse mid-life health of long-term fulltime homemakers persists across cohorts, and that the association appears to become stronger in more recently born cohorts as long employment breaks have become less common. In addition, we have shown that modern couples remain remarkably traditional in their divisions of labour.
Other funded projects led by ICLS members include
Find all our academic publications since 2008
Read our child and adolescent health blog
Read our blog on work, life and health