Case study

Reshaping a demographic longitudinal population study for socio-economic research

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Author: Tom Harris, Martin Wittenberg, Mark Collinson, University of Cape Town, DataFirst and Louise Corti, University of Essex, UK Data Service

Date: 22 November 2017

Type of case study: Research

About the research

Across the world, substantial investments have been made in population and health surveillance sites. These sites record rich longitudinal data on demographics, household composition, health outcomes, migration, employment, incomes and educational attainment. Such programmes are conceptualised with the aim of providing a more accurate and thorough understanding of development processes in various contexts. However, in practice, the sometimes highly complex structure of the recorded data – inherent to the data collections process at these sites – prevent these data from being used and studied widely by social scientists. Such projects can thus fail to have the impact they might, and not provide insights for policy and planning. This case study presents a methodology for restructuring longitudinal population study data to enable a wider spectrum of research questions.

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